What is a Primary Source?
Primary sources are firsthand accounts of events or conditions during a particular period, often recorded contemporaneously by participants or observers.
- Diaries and journals
- Letters (correspondence)
- Speeches and sermons
- Notes (and other written materials describing experienced or observed events)
- Autobiographies and memoirs describing experienced or observed events (in hindsight)
- Newspaper articles
- Photographs, films, videos
- News broadcasts and transcripts
- Audio recordings documenting contemporary events
- Music, television shows, advertisements
- Art objects
- 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.