History 103: American History to 1865: What are Primary Sources

This is a course guide for History 103.

How to identify primary sources

Primary sources are contemporary accounts of an event, written by someone who experienced or witnessed the event in question.

Primary sources include:

  •  diaries
  •  letters
  •  memoirs
  •  autobiographies
  •  journals
  •  speeches
  •  manuscripts
  •  interviews
  •  cartoons
  •  advertisements
  •  newspaper or magazine articles written at the time of or soon after the fact
  •  photographs
  •  audio or video recordings
  •  movies
  •  research reports in the natural or social sciences
  •  documents of organizations
  •  goverment documents
  •  opinion polls
  •  original literary works or fiction
  •  original theatrical works
  •  original works of art


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