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Religious Studies 119: American Religious History: Contact, Exchange, Migration: Primary Sources

Do you know the difference between a primary and secondary source?

Sewanee Archives

What Are Primary Sources?

Original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories. May include letters, diaries, manuscripts, journals, speeches, newspapers, interviews, memoirs, government documents, photographs, audio recordings, film or video recordings, research data, and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, and tools.

Example:

Letter written by George Mason to John Mason

 

Credit: George Mason Primary Resources Guide

GeorgeMasonLetter

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Types of Primary Resources

This is a list of the most common types of primary resources in history.  When searching for sources, you might watch for these terms to help you figures out if you have found a primary resource.  You might also use these terms in your searches to help focus on a particular type of source or narrow down a large list of results.

  • advertisements
  • autobiography/autobiographies
  • correspondence
  • description and travel
  • diary/diaries
  • documents
  • early works to 1800
  • interview/interviews
  • journal
  • letters
  • pamphlets
  • personal narratives
  • trials
  • sources
  • speeches                      

Recommended Print Sources

Primary Sources for American History

Jessie Ball duPont Library, University of the South
178 Georgia Avenue, Sewanee, TN 37383
931.598.1664