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Primary Sources in-depth
Many primary or historical sources can be found in archival collections, however as first-hand accounts from specific events, primary sources can also be found in a variety of formats and places beyond the archives. For example, primary sources can be:
- Recordings (visual and audio)
- Books and articles (published during the specific time period being examined)
- Data as a direct result of an experiment, or observation
- Ephemera (pamphlets, buttons, fliers)
- Television shows, paintings, plays, and other artistic media
If you have to make a research visit, contact the archives and speak with an archivist before you go!
To learn more about using an archive, take a look at the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Guide "Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research."
Primary and Secondary Sources
What is a Primary Source?
A direct source from a particular event; a first-hand account from someone who was involved in an event; a work that was created during the time period studied.
A diary, newspapers from the time an event took place, a personal letter or correspondence.
CHINESE CRUSH FOE IN CHIHKIANG ZONE. (1945, May 11). New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107140388?accountid=13701
What is a Secondary Source?
Uses primary sources to make an argument or provide an analysis; not from the direct time of the event that it is describing.
- Criticisms, commentaries, a document that reviews or interprets a previous event or findings.
Can a Source be Primary and Secondary?
Simply put, yes. For example a documentary about World War II could be used as both a primary or secondary source. It could be used as a primary source if it has first-hand accounts or if you are studying the art of documentary. It could also be used as a secondary source because it uses primary source material to analyze an event.
Not sure if what you are looking at is primary or secondary?
Primary Resources at Sarah Lawrence College & Beyond
Women and Social Movements in the US A resource for students and scholars of U.S. History and U.S. Womens History. This collection includes 123 document projects and an archives of over 5,100 documents organized around the history of women in social movements in the U.S. between 1600 and 2000.
Scope: United States.
Dates: 1600 to 2000.
Historical Newspapers via Sarah Lawrence College Library
Early American Newspapers (1690-1876) Includes thousands of U.S. historical newspaper titles from all 50 states. Search through news content in individual publications as well as images and advertisements.
Scope: United States.
Dates: 1690 to 1876.
Ethnic NewsWatch Ethnic NewsWatch contains and searches as one both Ethnic NewsWatch, which is a current collection, and Ethnic NewsWatch: A History, which is an historical collection. Ethnic NewsWatch, the current file, covers 1990 to present and Ethnic NewsWatch: A History, covers 1959-1989. Includes newspapers, magazines, and journals of ethnic, minority, and native presses.
Scope: United States and Canada.
Dates: 1959 to present.
New York Times, ProQuest Historical Newspapers Full page and article images with searchable text from 1851-2013. Digital reproductions of every page of the New York Times are available to be searched and researchers can also scan through the front pages, advertisements, editorials, obituaries, and other features of the newspaper. Searches can also be constructed for specific date ranges.
Dates: 1851 to 2013.
Nineteenth Century British Library Newspapers Full run of 48 newspapers selected by the British Library including national and regional newspapers, established country and university towns, and industrious areas of the Midlands, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Newspapers which helped lead political or social movements such as Reform, Chartism, and Home Rule are also included. Users can magnify or reduce digitized newspaper images and search through the article text.
Scope: Great Britain, Worldwide.
Dates: 1800 to 1900.
Additional Historical Newspaper Resources
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