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American History - HIS 227 & HIS 229: Find Sources

HIS 227 is an introduction to American history to 1877; HIS 229 is an introduction to American history from 1877 to the recent past.

Primary Sources



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What is a primary source?

Primary sources are materials that provide first-hand information that is factual, without analysis or interpretation.  The accounts may be from the time they occurred or created at a later date by someone with first-hand knowledge; for example, a memoir. 

Types of primary source materials may be words, images, or objects.

Some examples are:

  • Artifacts like fossils, furnuture, clothing, pottery or jewelry
  • Original works of art, literature, or music; e.g., a novel or a painting
  • Autobiographies (not biographies)
  • Correspondence
  • Government documents; e.g., laws, presidential papers
  • Vital records like birth certificates
  • Diaries, letters, interviews, manuscripts
  • Personal narratives
  • Photographs, postcards, maps
  • Published results of clinical trials or experiments
  • Newspaper and magazine articles that contain first-hand factual accounts