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Research Basics - All Subjects

Montgomery Library's Guide to Research Basics

Primary Sources

A primary source of information is a record of an event as described or experienced by someone who witnessed or was part of the event as it was happening.

Types of primary sources include:

  • diaries and journals
  • letters
  • interviews
  • speeches
  • newspaper and magazine eye-witness accounts
  • photos, images, and cartoons
  • autobiographies
  • film and video footage of an event as it occurred
  • documents contemporary to the time produced by governments and organizations
  • public opinion polls from the time period under study
  • archaeological artifacts
  • maps 


Finding Primary Sources

Find primary sources in library catalogs and other searchable online databases by combining subject terms with some of the following keywords describing primary sources:

  • autobiography
  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • interviews
  • pamphlets
  • personal narratives
  • sources
  • speeches
An example of combining subject terms with a primary source term:
           women and voting and pamphlets
Combine keywords and phrases in an advanced search known as a Boolean Search.