Q. I need to find a Primary Source, what does that mean?


  • Primary Source refers to original material created at the time an event happened - or a record of an event after the fact by someone who was actually there.  In other words, a first-hand account. 
  • Primary sources can include diaries, journals, newspaper articles, memoirs, speeches, original research data and government documents - they can also be photographs, audio or video recordings, works of art and other objects.
  • Secondary Source interprets or analyzes information from a primary source, for example, a book about a historical event written by someone who was not present, or an article analyzing census data.

To find Primary and Secondary Sources:

  • Use the Library Catalog (SEARCH FOR BOOKS from the Library Homepage) to find books on your topic. 
  • Use databases (Databases by Subject or Databases by Title from the Library Homepage)
    • Gale Virtual Reference Library or Salem Online (for historical sources)
    • Statistical Abstract of the United States (for statistics and census data)
    • Science Direct (for primary research). 
  • Keywords to try when searching for primary sources:
    • "personal narratives"
    • manuscripts
    • archives
    • correspondence
    • diaries
    • sources
  • JCC Research Guides (LibGuides)
  • Last Updated Feb 12, 2018
  • Views 18
  • Answered By Maggie McElrath

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