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Communication

Research Guide for Communication majors and students enrolled in Communication classes

Finding Primary Sources

Primary sources such as letters, memoirs, diaries, photos, and other materials are often a rich resource for literary research. Fortunately, many archives, museums and libraries have begun digitizing their collections of primary source material and have made them available online. These can often be difficult to find, however.

To help you find primary sources on your topic, we put together an entire subject guide on locating them. Visit our Primary Sources LibGuide for more information. And, if you still can't find what you're looking for, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary Sources were either created during the time period being studied, or were created at a later date by a participant in the events being studied (as in the case of memoirs) and they reflect the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer.  Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period. 

Examples:

  • Original Documents (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records
  • Creative Works: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art
  • Relics or Artifacts: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings

Secondary Sources interpret and analyze primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them.

Examples:

  • Dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, and books and articles that interpret or review research works.