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ZSR Library

HST 223: History of Britain to 1750

Fall 2023

What is a primary source?

In historical research, a primary source can be any source of information created at the time of a historical event or by a direct participant in or observer of an event.

Primary sources can include memoirs,diaries, correspondence, interviews, photographs, newspaper or magazine articles, film footage, news broadcasts, official documents, speeches, maps, artifacts, and works of fiction or drama.

What constitutes a primary source depends entirely on the subject of research. For example, John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage would be a secondary source in a study of John Quincy Adams or Sam Houston, but it could serve as a primary source if the topic of study were Kennedy himself.

Digital Collections Available through ZSR

BOOKS AND OTHER PUBLISHED MATERIALS

NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS

LEGAL RESOURCES

THEMATIC PRIMARY SOURCE COLLECTIONS

Openly Available Collections

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