Primary Sources

Look at the library guide defining Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources
Help Guides from other universities can also help -
              What are primary sources?  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.

Most primary sources are not available to us, or written in Greek or Latin, so modern translations of critical editions are acceptable as primary sources.  Also acceptable as primary sources are ancient art, architecture, and artefacts, as well as archaeological reports and diaries.

Types of primary sources:

Sacred Texts:

            Bible O.T. Hebrew
            Bible N.T. Apocrypha
            Bible English Revised Standard

Original documents (including excerpts and translations): diaries, speeches, manuscripts, 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.

Wide variety of resources on the ancient world. Full-text in original Greek or Latin as well as English translations; integrated Atlas; art and archaeology images and descriptions etc.

  • Patrologia Latina
  • The Latin Library at the Classics Page  - Provides access to public domain Latin texts. The texts are not intended for research purposes nor as substitutes for critical editions. There are no translations at the site.
  • Classical Latin Texts (The Packard Humanities Institute) - Website contains essentially all Latin literary texts written before A.D. 200, as well as some texts selected from later antiquity.
  • Tesserae (Latin)  - The Tesserae project aims to provide a flexible and robust web interface for exploring intertextual parallels.

To find print and electronic editions and translations of primary texts available in the library:

  • Omni - Search by author or title.
Content last reviewed: January 26, 2021