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Women's History: Additional Primary Sources

Use this guide to learn more about researching women's history.

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:

  • Letters
  • Diaries/Journals/Notebooks
  • Recordings (visual and audio)
  • Interviews
  • Speeches
  • 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)
  • Newspapers
  • Pictures
  • 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

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

Historical Newspapers via Sarah Lawrence College Library

Additional Historical Newspaper Resources

Suggest a Resource

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