22 January 2019 Blogs

Primary Sources in eLibrary

Intro Copy

One of the best ways for students to understand and write about the past is through the use of primary sources. Using these resources will help students more accurately understand the context of historic events and cultural norms of the past. They are important resources not only for students of history but students in literature, art, and science. In their research it is important to distinguish between primary and secondary sources and how each should be treated. In history, one indication of the difference between a primary and secondary source is how far removed the material is from an event or time period that a text was written about. Primary sources are original documents and are direct connections to history. Depending on the material, they can take the form of tangible documents, such as Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence, written on parchment, which is housed in the Library of Congress, or they can take the form of a digital representation or copy of the original source. They can also take the form of artifacts such as photographs and paintings and their digital representations. Primary source documents can be first-hand accounts, created during the time of an event under study, such as the Anne Frank's diary. Unlike secondary sources, they are not filtered through any personal explanation or interpretation of another person. Secondary sources are usually accounts after an event in which the writer gives his thoughts and opinions on primary documents. They can also be interpretations of primary science documents, such as a paper about the significance of research findings or experiments. Primary sources usually sidestep problems fundamental in secondary sources where a writer may distort the findings of previously cited sources. Even so, secondary sources can still provide a unique perspective and commentary on evidence provided by primary sources. eLibrary has Research Topics related to primary and secondary sources to aid students in finding and using important documents in their research and writing assignments. Here is a sampling: Evaluating Resources Historiography Library of Congress Primary and Secondary Sources Writing a Research Paper Students can also find sources in eLibrary by using search strategies. One way is to click on the Advanced Search button on eLibrary's homepage. At the Advanced Search page, click on Primary Sources, then fill in your search string at the top of the page. Another search strategy is to search for particular publications in eLibrary that include primary source documents. For example, if you want find articles from a particular publication you could use the following search strategy:Publication SearchHere are a list of publications that students can get started with using the PUB field label search strategy: The American Revolution: A History in Documents Archive Photos Art Resources Images Congressional Documents and Publications The Civil War: A History in Documents The Cold War: A History in Documents Colonial America: A History in Documents Encounters in the New World: A History in Documents Getty Historical Images The Gilded Age: A History in Documents Library of Congress Photos Twentieth Century China: A History in Documents The Vietnam War: A History in Documents World Book Year Books World Book Science Year Books World War I: A History in Documents