Primary Sources

Changes to Library services during the COVID-19 service disruption.

Look at the library guide defining Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources
Help Guides from other universities can also help -
              Primary Sources come in all shapes and sizes - from Yale University

A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the period being studied. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event.  Also included are works created later by an eyewitness or a participant in an event, e.g. memoirs/autobiographies.

Types of primary sources:

    Original documents (including excerpts and translations): diaries, speeches, manuscrips, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records, ancient literature, magazine and newspaper articles.
    Creative works: poetry, drama, novels, printed music, sound recordings, art.
    Relics or artefacts: pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings.
    Statistics and raw data
    Reproductions, facsimiles or replicas of original documents, creative works or artefacts are also acceptable as primary sources.

 Examples of primary sources:

Finding primary sources in the library collection

  1.  Original documents can be found by consulting the Archives and Special Collections (ARC) website.
  2.  Reproductions can be found by checking Omni.

Use specific words to locate primary sourcees in Omni, such as: correspondence, sources, diaries, letters, personal naratives. KEYWORD search examples:

  • [PERSON’S NAME] and s:correspondence
  • [PERSON’S NAME] and s:diaries
  • [PERSON’S NAME] and s:letters
  • [KEYWORD] and s:sources

For more information on relevant primary sources, see the Greek and Roman Subject Guide.

Centre for Research Libraries

The Center for Research Libraries (CRL)
A great institution to check for historical documents, newspapers, journals, archives and other sources. "The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is a consortium of North American universities, colleges, and independent research libraries. The consortium acquires and preserves newspapers, journals, documents, archives, and other traditional and digital resources for research and teaching and makes them available to member institutions through interlibrary loan and electronic delivery." Carleton University Library is a mermber of CRL.

Content last reviewed: July 15, 2020