This guide is no longer being updated. Please visit Subjects A-Z to find primary sources by topic or by title.
What is a primary source?
Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation.
They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented.
(From: "Primary sources at Yale")
Writing about History and Finding Primary Sources (UTSC) explain more about primary source research.
What can be a primary source?
Think about what kinds of primary sources might be related to your topic:
1. Start with what you already have to uncover references to primary sources.
They can also help you identify relevant historical figures, authors, or keywords for searching library databases
2. Use the library catalogue to find books and other materials.
To find primary sources on your subject, combine keywords for different kinds of primary sources with keywords for your topic.
world war 1914 correspondence
national socialism documents
3. Use reliable online text collections
4. Use one of the specialized libraries at U of T, such as the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, or one of our special collections.
JSTOR's 19th Century British Pamphlets collection includes pamphlets from various UK university collections, which cover topics of public debate and political, social, technological, and environmental issues.
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