Primary Source Guide
Examples of Primary Sources at UMass
Includes photographs, films, paintings, and other types of artwork.
Includes books, magazines, newspapers, government documents, non-government reports, literature of all kinds, advertisements, maps, pamphlets, posters, laws, and court decisions.
Location: Five College Catalog
Jeddito 264; a report on the excavation of a Basket Maker III-Pueblo I site in northeastern Arizona - Daifuku, H. (Hiroshi)
Manuscripts and Archival Material
Includes personal letters, diaries, journals, wills, deeds, family Bibles containing family histories, school report cards, and many other sources. Unpublished business records such as correspondence, financial ledgers, information about customers, board meeting minutes, and research and development files also give clues about the past.
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963. Miscegenation, 1936. W. E. B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312).
Location: Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries
Digitized and available on Credo
Primary vs. Secondary Sources
What is a Primary Source?
- Materials created during the time period being studied
- News articles, diaries
- Materials created at a later date by a participant in the events being studied
- Memoirs, interviews
Why use Primary Sources?
Primary sources reflect the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer, enabling the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during a historical event or time period.
What is a Secondary Source?
- Materials that interpert or analyze historical events or phenomena
- Generally at least one step removed from events in question
- Often based on primary sources
- Scholarly or populary books and/or articles, reference book, textbooks
Why use Secondary Sources?
Secondary sources can provide framing and background information, which can help you evaluate and contextualize primary sources.
Primary Sources in Print
- UMass/Five College Online CatalogUse the catalog's Advanced Search features, and narrow your catalog search by date, author, format, or place of publication. Limiting publication dates will lose primary sources published or reprinted after they were originally written.
- Special Collections and University ArchivesSearch the UMarmot Catalog to locate manuscript and archival collections alphabetically or by keyword and subject.
- Five College Archive & Manuscript CollectionsSearch or browse finding aides to primary sources at the Five Colleges.
- Library MicroformsContact the staff at the Reserves, Media & Miroforms Department to locate and retrieve primary sources that have been copied to mircofilm/microfiche.
- WorldCat This link opens in a new windowThe combined catalogs of most U.S. libraries.Content is freely available for use by all.
- ArchiveGridFrom the creators of WorldCat, ArchiveGrid is a collection of over two million archival material descriptions. It provides access to detailed collection descriptions and contact information for the institutions where the collections are kept.
Guide revised by Kate Zdepski (2013)
- Last Updated: Mar 14, 2022 11:12 AM
- URL: https://guides.library.umass.edu/primarysource
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