Primary Sources in the Library:
What are they?
- A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. They may also present original thinking, new discoveries or new information collected at the time of an event.
- Types of primary sources
- Original documents (including excerpts and translations): diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, technical reports, empirical studies (research based on scientific and experimental results), news film footage, autobiographies, official records, ancient literature, magazine and newspaper articles, public opinion polls, medical charts.
- Creative works: poetry, drama, novels, printed music, sound recordings, art.
- Relics or artifacts: pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings.
Examples of primary sources
- Diary of Anne Frank
- The Constitution of Canada
- Newspaper article from the time an event occurred
- A journal article reporting new research or findings
- Weavings and pottery
- Plato's Republic
Where to find
- Other primary source databases
- In the library collection
- Original documents can be found by consulting the Archives and Research Collections (ARC) website.
- Reproductions can be found by checking the library catalogue.
- Use specific words to locate primary sources in the library catalogue, 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
Primary Sources: International Databases