Primary Sources

Primary sources are materials that provide first-hand documentation or knowledge, usually of people, places, events or time periods. Primary sources enable the researcher to trace a research subject to its origin, potentially supporting new interpretations or revealing previously undocumented knowledge of that subject. Just a few examples of primary sources include diaries, oral histories, fossils, DNA, correspondence, speeches, interviews, court cases, or scientific studies. Secondary sources build upon or extrapolate information derived from primary sources, and the distinction between the two can be quite fluid depending on one's area of study. In most contexts, however, a primary source is understood to be a point of origin, or a piece of raw data, for a research subject.

Featured resource

From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods [ D16 .H713 2001  3rd floor ]

A great introduction to historical research methods.

Research assistance

Anna Culbertson
Special Collections & University Archives Librarian
Office: Library Addition 4410A
Phone: (619) 594-6892
aculbertson AT mail DOT sdsu DOT edu
Robert Ray
Special Collections Division Head
Office: Library Addition 4410G
Phone: (619) 594-4303
robert DOT ray AT mail DOT sdsu DOT edu
Reference Desk
General Research Assistance
Location: 1st Floor Library Addition
Phone: (619) 594-6728
eref AT rohan DOT sdsu DOT edu
Special Collections and University Archives
Special Collections Research Assistance
Location: 4th Floor Library Addition
Phone: (619) 594-6791
scref AT rohan DOT sdsu DOT edu

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