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American Studies & Ethnicity *

Primary Sources Overview

Primary sources are original documents or first hand accounts from a given historical period, as opposed to secondary sources, such as journal articles, which provide information about and analysis of events and primary sources.

Primary sources can take many forms, including: newspaper articles from the period, diaries, letters, photographs, autobiographies, posters, advertisements, original manuscripts, speeches, poems, oral histories, interviews, laws, transcripts, congressional hearings, pamphlets, and more.
More info:  

Tips for finding primary sources: 

Start by doing some background reading: The more you know about key events, people, laws, and especially common terminology used during the time period you are researching the more successful your research will be.

Search for primary sources in USC's Library catalog:
Use search terms that reflect the types of material you’re looking for, such as: sources, diaries, pamphlets, correspondence, speeches, manuscripts, personal narratives, interviews, firsthand, eyewitness, etc.

Examples: suffrage and pamphlets; slaves and interviews; united states and race relations and sources

Large primary source collections covering a range of topics and time periods

These mega-sites are good places to start your search for primary sources