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HIST 630: Research Seminar in World History

Selected Resource Recommendations for History 630 Dr. Howes

Coordinator of Information Literacy & Instruction

What are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are materials created at the time of the topic you are researching, or by an eyewitness to the topic/event.  Primary sources enable historians to get as close as possible to documentation of what likely actually happened during a historical period or event.  For the purposes of History 630, you are working to identify chronicles or annals, that document what an eyewitness experienced during your topic focus.

Examples of Primary Sources

Primary sources are first-hand accounts of an event or time in history that has yet to be interpreted by another person.

Examples of primary sources include:

  • diaries, journals, letters, interviews, speeches, memos, manuscripts and other first-person accounts
  • memoirs and autobiographies
  • official records such as government publications, census data, court reports, police records
  • minutes, reports, correspondence of an organization or agency
  • newspaper and magazine articles written during the time of the event
  • photographs, paintings, film and television programs, audio recordings which document an event
  • research such as opinion polls which document attitudes and thought during the time of an event
  • artifacts such as objects, tools, clothing, etc. of the time period or eve+

Internet Sources for Locating Primary Sources


Western manuscripts to c. 1500--Bodleian Library

Oxford Digital Library

Early Manuscripts at Oxford University

British Library--Digitised Manuscripts

Domesday Book
A highly detailed survey and valuation of all the land held by the King and his chief tenants, along with all the resources that went with the land in late 11th century England.

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