While reference tools and secondary sources (scholarly books and journal articles) are essential for the scholar, his or her focus for original research will be primary sources. A primary source was created near the event, activity, movement or subject under study. The closer in time and space to the event a source was created, the more likely a source will be considered primary.
Examples of Primary Sources
While the gold standard for primary sources is still the original document in its original format (e.g., actual letters, diaries, print newspapers, etc.), more and more primary sources have been microfilmed or digitized and subsequently made available in subscription databases or freely on the web. For primary sources in their original format, historians frequently end up traveling to libraries and archives holding the original unique materials. If you are using a digitized document, be sure to determine if the full document is included or only selected portions. Selection involves value judgments and potential bias.
Sample Published Collections of Primary Source Materials
For other collections of primary source held by Notre Dame:
Search in ND Catalog "Advanced Search" for:
Subject contains ("foreign relations" AND "united states" AND (russia OR
"soviet union" OR ussr OR china OR cuba OR vietnam))
OR "cold war"
Subject contains sources OR documents
Additional Collections of Primary Sources
HIST 53001: History Honors Methods by G. Margaret Porter
Letters, Diaries, Papers and Interviews:
Books, Pamphlets, Documents, etc. :