Primary sources

Primary sources
Primary sources are documents/artefacts created at the time of an event or shortly thereafter by an individual(s) who observed or witnessed the event and/or collected data from that event. Some documents written after the event such as autobiographies could also be considered as primary sources.

In other words, primary sources could be:

1. Original works such as diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, film footage, autobiographies, official records, personal narratives, empirical articles

2. Physical artefacts such as instruments, tools

Finding primary resources in the CU library collection

1. Books as primary sources
To find primary sources (books written by pioneers in psychology), you may wish to search the PsycBOOKS collection or do an AUTHOR search in our own library catalogue using the author's name. These resources will provide you with insight on how these pioneer researchers developed emerging fields of study in psychology.
Here is an example:
Author: Boring, Edwin Garrigues
An AUTHOR search in the library's catalogue brought up 15 results. By doing an author search in the PsycBOOKS collection, you will find 3 results.

You may also consider looking up resources such as lecture series or special historical collections. Simply do a keyword search in the catalogue using the lecture name and/or limit your search to a particular time period.
For example, a search for the Woodworth, Robert Sessions brought up a number of documents from that collection.
Another such example comes from :
Columbia University lectures: dynamic psychology (1918)
This book presents enlarged and modified versions of the the Jesup Lectures for 1916-1917, given at the American Museum of Natural History with the cooperation of Columbia University. Topics of discussion include: Modern Movement in Psychology; Problems and Methods of Psychology; Native Equipment of Man; Acquired or Learned Equipment; Factor of Selection and Control; Factor of Originality; Drive and Mechanism in Abnormal Behavior; and Drive and Mechanism in Social Behavior.

Other historical e-book collections you may wish to search in our library include:
Project Gutenburg (select Psychology under the Book Category link) 
PsycBOOKS (search via PROQUEST using the advanced search feature) search by author or keyword and limit your search to a particular time period

Correspondance/letters by pionners in psychology are also useful as they provide more personal accounts of developments of a particular research area. You can search the CU library collection for these resources by doing a keyword search using the name of the pionneer along with the term correspondance or letters.

Eg. Sigmund Freud and letters 

Note: Please be aware that the terminology may differ for a particular historical period.
For example, the following document describes the process of learning in young children as "brain stuffing".

Brain stuffing and forcing [microform] / by Daniel Clark (1887)
FC18.C15 N. 01601 

Journal articles as primary sources: how to find them in the CU library collection

Empirical articles would fit the definition of a primary sources. To find these types of articles, limit your search in PsycINFO to "empirical article" (under the methodology heading). Search using either keywords to describe the area of interest (eg. psychoanalysis) and limit your search to a specific historical date range and/or pioneer researcher (limit to an author search).


Content last updated: August 19, 2019