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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
Best Bet Library Databases
Early English Books Online (EEBO)
Publication Dates: 1473-1700
Contains virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700.
Eighteenth Century Collections Online
Publication Dates: 1701-1800
Provides the full text of books, pamphlets, essays, broadsides printed in any language in the territories governed by Britain and all items printed in English anywhere in the world during the eighteenth century.
HathiTrust Digital Library
Access public domain books and journals from U.S. research libraries digitized by Google, Internet Archive, and other digitization partnerships.
Searches across books and magazines digitized by Google.
Provides full-text access to The Tatler (1709-1711) and The Spectator (1711-14), two important eighteenth-century periodicals.
Eighteenth-Century Coffee-House Culture
Call Number: SAWYER RESERVE TX910.G7 E46 2006
Reprints primary sources related to coffee-house culture in 4 volumes: Restoration satire, The eighteenth-century satire, Drama, and Science and history writings.