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What are Primary Sources?
Primary sources are first-hand accounts by participants of a particular event or materials produced at the same historical time period.
If you were examining racism in the 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the article in the encyclopedia on the "Negro" would be a primary source. However, an article in the American Historical Review analyzing racism in the Britannica would be a secondary source. (Richard Marius, A Short Guide to Writing About History, pp. 14-15.)
Some examples of primary sources include:
- Memoirs, speeches, writings, correspondence
- Papers of a political party, agency, or association
- Official documents such as congressional hearings and reports
- Contemporary magazine and newspaper articles
- Contemporary art, films, literature, and music
- Contemporary artifacts, such as buildings and monuments
Finding Films in the Library Catalog
- For films featuring specific choreographers, performers, or dance troupes do a Browse Search by author and then limit to Resource Type: Audiovisual.
- For films featuring a specific form of dance, do a Browse Search by Subject and then limit to Resource Type: Audiovisual. (Note: this search may also find feature films about the form of dance)
- To find performances, do a Browse Search by Title for the title of the piece or Browse Search by Subject related to the form and then limit to Resource Type: Audiovisual. (Note: this search may also find feature films about the form of dance. May also need to limit to location Sawyer DVD if the search finds too many CDs)
More Primary Sources Databases
We have lots of databases containing primary sources. See the full list.
Dance in Video This link opens in a new window
Publication Dates: 1950s-Present
Includes streaming videos of classical and contemporary dance performances, documentaries by and about leading choreographers, and videos on dance training.
Kanopy This link opens in a new window
Contains streamed documentary and feature films. International coverage.
Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive
Provides excerpts of dance performances filmed at Jacob’s Pillow from the 1930s to today. Browse by era, genre, artists, or playlists.
YouTube is a great place to find lots of different types of video clips. However, be sure to evaluate the videos -- who created it, who uploaded it, where was it filmed, when was it filmed, who are the performers?
ProQuest Historical Newspapers (US) This link opens in a new window
Searches across the full text and images of major U.S. and Black historical newspapers. Includes New York Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Defender, L.A. Times, and more.
For additional news sources, see the A-Z database list.
ARTstor This link opens in a new window
A giant collection of high-resolution images. Focuses on art and architecture, but is also good for archaeology, anthropology, and history.
AP Newsroom This link opens in a new window
Publication Dates: 1844-Present
Current and historical archive of photographs, graphics, audio, and text created by the Associated Press.
Katherine Dunham Collection
Includes selection of photographs, film and videotape excerpts from Dunham's research and performing career, and selections from the Library of Congress's Dunham Legacy Project that documented the Dunham dance technique.
For additional image sources, see our How to Find Images guide.