A primary source may be a first-hand account of an event created during the time period being studied, or at a later date by a participant in the events being studied. Examples include: diaries, autobiographies, speeches, historical newspapers, interviews, laws, manuscripts, art, plays or memoirs, data and statistics, and maps. When you are looking for primary sources, here are some things to remember:
- In order to analyze primary sources, you need to know the historical context of when a primary source was created.
- You should be aware of the point of view or bias. Two observers of the same event could have very different perspectives.
- Sometimes first-hand accounts or interviews might not contain accurate or factual information.
- Understand historical usage of language. When searching for primary sources, be aware of the language used during the time period being studied and use those terms in your searches.
Newspapers as Primary Sources
Newspaper articles can be examples of both primary and secondary sources. Therefore, you’ll need to review information about the author of the article, the date of the article, and how the article will be used in your work before you can determine if it will be considered a primary or secondary source.
Primary Sources on the Web
See the Vermont Sources and Government Documents pages of the library website for additional primary sources.