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Primary Source Literacy : Home

What are Primary Resources?


Examples of Primary Resources

  • Diaries & Journals
  • Correspondence
  • Newspapers
  • Government Documents
  • Original Scientific Research Studies
  • Immigration Records
  • Photographs 
  • Scrapbooks
  • Artifacts
  • Works of Art
  • Ephemera (posters, advertisments, flyers, etc.)
  • Speeches
  • News reels
  • Films
  • Oral Histories

Resource Evaluation

What are Primary Resources?

"Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience." 

- From The Library of Congress 

Evaluating Primary Resources

Whatever resource you encounter, whether Primary or Secondary, it is important to evaluate. Answer these questions each and every time:

EXTERNAL EVALUATION - Provenance of the resource itself: 

  • Who created the resource? What is their relationship to the event/ era?

  • Who is the intended audience for the resource?

  • When and where was the resource created?

  • Why was it created?


INTERNAL EVALUTION - The information within the resource

  • What facts did you learn from this resource?
  • Can you detect any bias? Is there any reason to doubt the source or the creator?
  • Is there anything the author left unclear? What would you like to know more about?

Subject Guide