Primary Documents were either created during the time period being studied or were created by a participant in the events at a later date, as in the case of memoirs. Primary sources reflect the personal viewpoint of a participant or observer. Primary sources enable a researcher to get as close as possible to what actually took place during a certain time period or an historical event. A primary document might also be the specific text or material being studied, for example a work of fiction of a poem.
Types of Primary Documents:
Find books: Search the library catalog by topic and limit by date of publication.
Find autobiographies: Search the library catalog for the name of an individual as an author (last name, first).
Find memoirs, diaries or collections of letters or interviews: Search the library catalog for the name of an individual as an author (last name, first) or search by subject and add the appropriate subject terms to the subject heading: Correspondence, Letters, Diaries, Interviews, Personal narratives. (Ex.: subject keywords might be: Japanese American interviews or Japanese American diaries).
Find Speeches: Search the library catalog by names of authors or by subject and include -speeches indexes. (Ex.: Harry Truman speeches).
Find Pamphlets: Search the library catalog by subject and add the subject term -pamphlets. (Ex. Cold war pamphlets).
Find Photographs: Search the library catalog by subject and include the terms-photographs or -pictorial works. For example: world war 1939-1945 pictorial works.
Find Cartoons: To find books that discuss and reproduce cartoons from a specific time period, search library catalogs by subject and add the subject terms -caricatures and cartoons For example: -Spanish-American war caricatures and cartoons. Search an article database that includes Historical Newspapers, such as the Historical New York Times database.