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British History

Primary Sources

Primary sources are original materials. They are first-hand accounts from the time period involved and may include such things as:

  • diaries, letters, photographs, art, maps, original video, film or sound recordings, interviews, or newspaper articles.


How to read and evaluate a primary source
Primary Source Analysis Tool; Library of Congress, Click on the to help you fill in the categories

Why study history through primary sources?  

Secondary sources are created after the fact by individuals or groups who did not witness the events being discussed. They interpret, report, or correlate subjects based on their study of primary material. It is inevitable that we all interpret events of the past through the lens of our own experience, but reputable scholars attempt to minimize subjectivity.

In the Library Catalogue  use keywords that describe your topic together with any of the following subject headings:

  • Autobiography / Autobiographies 
  • Correspondence
  • Diary / Diaries
  • Interview / Interviews
  • Journal         
  • Letter / Letters
  • Personal narratives
  • Sources
  • Speech / Speeches