What is in This Guide?
This is a selective guide to finding primary source materials for historical research. The University Libraries maintain rich collections of primary sources in print, microform, and electronic formats. Additionally, there are hundreds of collections of primary source materials available on the Web, and more are added every day. Because there is no single comprehensive database of primary sources, you may need to explore different strategies for locating resources of interest.
This guide contains the following sections:
- UNC Electronic Primary Sources - primary source collections available electronically through the UNC libraries.
- Search Strategies at UNC - strategies for locating primary sources in the UNC library catalog.
- Online Primary Sources - collections of primary sources freely available on the web.
- Search Strategies Outside UNC - strategies for locating primary source material on the web or in other library collections.
- Directories of Sources - online guides to locating digitized primary source documents and collections.
What are Primary Sources?
Primary sources are often referred to as "first hand" accounts or "original" records. They are the evidence historians use to build interpretations of the past. Most primary sources are created at the time an historical event occurred, while others, such as autobiographies, are produced long after the events they describe. Among the many types of materials that may be primary sources are: letters, diaries, speeches, newspaper articles, autobiographies, oral histories, government and organizational records, statistical data, maps, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings, advertisements, and artifacts.
Guides for Finding and Using Primary Sources
Create citations in the right format using this web form.
Use this web-based tool to manage the citations for your research projects.
Also, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources From Artifacts to Cyberspace will help you deal with many different types of historical source material.