Skip to Main Content

China Studies Primary Sources: Home

What is a Primary Source?

Primary sources are the raw materials of history - original documents and objects which were created at the time under study.

They are different from secondary sources, which are accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience.

Examples include: 

  • Magazine and newspaper articles published at the time
  • Hand-written documents like diaries and journals
  • Maps
  • Laws & court cases
  • Speeches, interviews, letters
  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • literary manuscripts
  • Records of government agencies
  • Records of organizations
  • Public opinion polls
  • Fiction from a particular time and place
  • Research data
  • Religious or philosophical texts
  • Artifacts of all kinds: physical objects, furniture, tools, clothing, etc.
  • Photographs, audio recordings, movies and videos
  • Art, including paintings, prints and other media


Finding Primary Sources

UNC Libraries has access to the following types of resources