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Finding Primary Sources: Home

Looking for some primary sources for that history paper? Start here!

What Are Primary Sources, Anyway?

So you need primary sources for your paper! Not quite sure what they are—or where to find them? We've got you covered!

Primary Sources: The Big Picture

Primary sources are, in a nutshell, texts written about the era or person you're studying, in the era you're studying. They can include a wide range of materials, depending on your era, your project, and exactly what you're studying.

Everything from maps to journal entries, newspaper articles to laws (and beyond!) can count as primary sources—depending on your projects. (Always remember to check with your librarians and your professors!)

Primary & Secondary Sources

Generally, your primary source text was written or otherwise produced back in the day; your secondary—a scholarly book, a journal article, a contemporary newspaper article—was written more recently.

Primary Sources Can Be Secondary Sources, Too

Sometimes a primary source document can be a secondary source—for your particular project. If you're not sure what you're dealing with, ask your professor and your librarian.

Using This Guide

This isn't a complete list of all the primary sources available online, but it is a good place to start. Some resources include only materials from a specific era; those are listed by era. Others are more general, or include materials from a wider range of eras and places; they are listed under general.

No source is one-size-fits all, and you don't need to do any of this alone—reach out to your professors and your librarians for help.

Primary Source Databases

These databases are not one size fits all, and they may or may not work depending upon your needs—but they're a great place to look. Just make sure you have your SXU login credentials handy, so you can go ahead and log in.

Outside Resources

Looking for more descriptions of primary versus secondary? Need additional ideas of places to go and things to look for? These libraries and archives have some great guides to help!

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