Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary sources: autobiographies, diaries/letters, creative works, speeches/interviews, government records. Secondary sources: biographies, encyclopedias/textbooks, magazines, book reviews, interpretations of someone else's work. Sometimes, it just depends on the situation. For example, if you're researching women's magazines from the 1920s, those magazines would probably be considered primary sources. Or, if you're using the annotated memoirs of Abraham Lincoln to inform your research, the annotation are secondary sources, but the words Lincoln wrote himself are primary sources.

United States History Online Primary Source Collections

Research tip: include the terms "documents of" or "documentary history"

when looking for primary sources on history topics.

STC Collection Highlights: Pre-Columbian Era to Civil War/Reconstruction

STC Collection Highlights: Reconstruction to the 21st Century

Writing History

Library of Congress Highlights

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The following links highlight a small sampling of the LOC's collections:

Useful Databases