What are Primary Sources?
Primary sources are materials that provide first hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by the individuals who witnessed or experienced the events or conditions being documented. Generally, primary sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but can also be created later if based on first hand experiences. This is what differentiates primary from secondary sources. Primary sources are characterized by their content, not their format. Primary sources can be any number of the following types of materials: diaries and correspondence; photographs and illustrations; newspaper articles from the time period; manuscripts; pamphlets, broadsides, and other ephemera; autobiographical materials; and oral histories.
Text partially adapted from Primary Sources definition in Native American Studies LibGuide (http://libguides.usc.edu/nativeamericanstudies) created by Sue Tyson.
Primary Sources at USC: