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Primary Sources: Examples

Need to do primary source work for a paper or project? Here's a collection of library and other resources to get you started.

Distinguishing Between Primary and Secondary Sources

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address   Garry Wills' book Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America
The poem "Field Work" by Seamus Heaney   "A Cold Eye Cast Inward: Seamus Heaney's Field Work" by George Cusack in New Hibernia Review (2002 Autumn), pp. 53-72.
The figures for Fontbonne University found in a table of "Number of Offenses Known to the Police, Universities and Colleges" in the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, 2008   An article in the Fontbanner entitled "Mother Madness" on Psychology professor Laurel Newman's work.
The lyrics of 2 Live Crew's album As Nasty As They Wanna Be   The article "Discouraging 'Objectionable' Music Content: Litigation, Legislation, Economic Pressure, and More Speech" found in Communications & the Law, April 2003, which discusses 2 Live Crew's lyrics.
Cynthia Scheibe's doctoral dissertation on the developmental differences in children's reasoning about Santa Claus   An article in Parents Magazine discussing experts' views on the harm of lying to children about Santa Claus
The text of Barack Obama's keynote address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention found in The New York Times   A 2004 editorial in The New York Times entitled "Everybody Loves Obama"

Additional Examples


  • Diaries or journals (published or unpublished)
  • Letters, correspondence, or other personal communications
  • Public documents such as deeds, wills, and marriage licenses or certificates
  • Newspapers and weekly newsmagazines (offering contemporaneous reporting of events)
  • Radio and television transcripts and wire reports
  • Speeches in print or audio formats
  • Court cases
  • Legislative reports, bills, and laws
  • Census data
  • Government Documents
  • Inventories
  • Maps
  • Art, including paintings, prints, and photographs
  • Artifacts or specimens
  • Interviews or oral histories
  • Works of literature such as fiction, poetry, or drama
  • Statistics, including opinion polls
  • Sacred writings

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