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HIST 060: The East India Company (SC)

History 060: The East India Company, 1600-1857 (Azfar) Fall 2016

What is a Primary Source? (examples)

primary colored housesPrimary sources are firsthand accounts of events or conditions during a particular period, often recorded contemporaneously by participants or observers.

Written documents:

  • Diaries and journals
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Speeches and sermons
  • Manuscripts
  • Notes (and other written materials describing experienced or observed events)
  • Autobiographies and memoirs describing experienced or observed events (in hindsight)
  • Newspaper articles
  • Maps

Multimedia sources:

  • Photographs, films, videos
  • News broadcasts and transcripts
  • Audio recordings documenting contemporary events
  • Music, television shows, advertisements

Physical artifacts:

  • Art objects
  • Costumes
  • Buildings, monuments, etc.
  • Public opinion polls, television shows, movies, music, best-sellers, advertisements - anything that provides a cultural, psychological, or sociological snapshot of a certain time period

An important case to note: scholarly journal articles, books, and other published documents can be primary sources IF they were published during the time period you're studying and discuss contemporary events.