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Primary Sources Guide: Home

Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources

Created by University of Houston Library

Why Use Primary Sources

A primary source is first-hand information, unfiltered by analysis or interpretation. Primary source material can typically be found in archives, where it is preserved for the historical record. 

Some examples of primary source materials include:

  • Letters; emails
  • Interviews, oral histories, memoirs, autobiographies
  • Novels, paintings, photographs, music, and film 
  • Court cases
  • Population data
  • Speeches
  • Scientific data 
  • Maps

On the first page of this guide, you will find databases containing historical materials, including some primary source material. On the second, you will fine online libraries and exhibits that provide digital access to primary source materials. They are arranged into two, broad categories: World History and American History.