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Using Primary Sources: Why should I use a primary source?

This LibGuide is designed to provide students with a basic introduction to primary sources and to give them some places to begin locating primary source documents.

Examples include:

This Kodak advertisement, circa 1905 and others like it.

Why would I use a primary source?

While secondary sources are removed  -- both in chronology and in perspective -- from the topic being discussed, "Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during a historical event or time period. A primary source reflects the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer"  (University of Oregon Library).


By getting the researcher closer to his or her subject and eliminating the layers of interpretation that other historians have given the topic, primary sources also encourage the researcher to make his or her own interpretation of the evidence.  -- from Then Again History

Examples include:

This letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson and others like it

Letter from Adams to Jefferson