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Native American and Indigenous Studies *

What are Primary Sources?

Unlike secondary sources, which comment on their topics, primary sources are actual documents from the time period, people, and events of the time under consideration. 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

To search for primary sources, develop a keyword search such as the following--please note that "sources" is a good general search term for primary sources:

  • cherokee and correspondence
  • native americans and speeches
  • indians and north american and sources
  • indians and newspapers

Searching with Subject vocabulary is very effective as well. You'll see subject headings when you click on a book's title and view the Subject links in the book's record; examples of subject headings relevant to Native American Studies include:

  • Indians of North America
  • Indians of North America--California--Government Relations
  • Indians of North America--Sources

To browse subject headings, for example, for Indians of North America, type this phrase in the Search box; click the "Begins With" radio button and the "Subject" button; you may also use Subject terms in combination with AND and other terms in keyword searches.

For more information on primary sources and how to search for them, please see the Finding Primary Sources Tip Sheet, on this page (right column) or on the Research Help tab.