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HIST 498: Cold War Koreas

What are Primary Sources

Primary sources are the pieces of evidence that historians analyze and interpret to support their historical arguments.

Depending on your topic, almost any kind of material can be used as a primary source as long as it was created during the time period that you are researching or was created by someone who participated, as in the case of oral histories or memoirs.

World Cloud of Primary Source Examples 


Letters, Diaries, Scientific Data, Interviews, Photographs, Maps, Videos, Manuscripts, Newspapers, Speeches, Oral Histories, Artifacts, Government Documents, Art, Ephemera, Broadsides, Memoirs, Songs, and More!

Finding Published Collections

Before digitization, accessing published document collections from libraries was a key way to use primary materials held in distant locations without needing to travel. It is often still the easiest way to find reproductions, transcriptions, and translations of very old texts or texts in a foreign language.

Other Subject or Keyword terms to identify books with primary materials:

anecdotes interviews
archives manuscripts
biography notebooks
caricatures and cartoons personal narratives
case studies pictorial works
correspondence public opinion
description and travel songs and music
diaries sources
documentary films speeches
documentary photography statistics