Finding Primary Sources

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

Primary Sources: International Databases

Content last updated: February 8, 2019