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HIST 202: Course Guide: Find Primary Sources

This guide is intended to help students in HIST 202 find, use and cite primary and secondary sources for their research.

What are primary sources?

Primary sources are firsthand accounts or evidence created during the time being studied. They typically include diaries, letters, autobiographies, photographs, speeches, artworks, video and sound recordings, maps, artifacts, court documents, oral histories, and newspaper articles and government documents created at the time. 

Many museum, libraries and archives digitize their primary sources so that you can access them easily. You'll find links to some of these collections on this page.

What are secondary sources?

Secondary sources are sources created later by someone who did not experience the events first-hand. Historians use primary sources to interpret the past, and publish their interpretations in the form of secondary sources. Secondary sources can include books, textbooks and articles that interpret or discuss original primary sources. 

Primary vs. Secondary sources

A letter written by Bhagat Singh in 1930 is an example of a:
Primary source: 17 votes (85%)
Secondary source: 3 votes (15%)
Total Votes: 20

Primary Sources by Location

East Asia

South Asia


North America


South America

General Resources

Books with Primary Sources

The World War I Reader:  [primary and secondary sources]

Neiberg has selected a wide array of primary documents, ranging from government papers to personal diaries, demonstrating the war’s devastating effect on all who experienced it, whether President Woodrow Wilson, an English doughboy in the trenches, or a housewife in Germany. In addition to this material, each chapter in The World War I Reader contains a selection of articles and book chapters written by major scholars of World War I.

The Industrial Revolution

Includes primary sources•each introduced by a headnote•that supply contemporary perspectives on vital elements of social history, especially the actions and conditions of laborers during the Industrial Revolution, providing insights into people's actions and motivations during this time of transition.

Nineteenth Century Europe

Primary source selections acquaint students with the writings and documents that helped shape the long 19th century European history, while the fiction selections bring historical events to the level of human life.

Primary Sources by Time Period or Theme

European Colonialism & Colonization

Slave Trade

World War I

World War II

1945 - Present