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Research Guides

HIS109 : Introduction to Primary Sources

This guide is intended to assist students in finding primary sources as required by HIS 109. By Sara McDowell (Robarts Library) and Roma Kail (E. J. Pratt Library).

Artefacts can be Primary Sources

Stick, gloves and puck that won gold in ice hockey the 2010 winter olympics for Canada.
By mark.watmough, from Flickr, under Creative Commons License

What is a Primary Source?

A primary source...was created at the time of the event...or by people who were observers of, or participants in, that event. ...
The medium of the primary source can be anything, including written texts, objects, buildings, films, paintings, cartoons, etc.

--Professor Elspeth H. Brown, Dept. of History, University of Toronto.


For another definition:

Yale University:

Kinds of Primary Sources

Think about what kinds of primary sources might be related to your topic:

  • letters/correspondence
  • interviews
  • diaries
  • memoirs
  • maps
  • reports
  • newspapers
  • pamphlets
  • government documents
  • institutional records
  • photographs
  • film