Primary Sources in the Humanities and Social Sciences
What is a Primary Source?
Primary sources are original sources, in which its witnesses or first recorders describe a time, person or event. They are the subject interpretation of a witness to an event and serve as the materials historians use to analyze the past. Primary sources can either be the original document or published at a later date in electronic, microfilm and printed collections.
Some types of primary sources include:
published materials (books, magazine and newspaper articles) written at the particular time
handwritten documents, such as diaries and journals
speeches, interviews, letters
memoirs and autobiographies
laws and court cases
records of government agencies
records of organizations
public opinion polls
fiction from a particular time and place
photographs, audio recordings, movies and videos
art, including paintings, prints and other media
artifacts, such as furniture, clothing, tools, clothing, jewelry, pottery, etc.
religious and philosophical texts
For further information, see Yale University's document, What are Primary Sources?
Last Updated: 10 August 2011