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HIST491 2020

Primary Source Evidence

What evidence was created? 
Broad Categories to consider:

  • The records and publications of governments
  • The records and publications of organizations
  • The papers of individuals
  • Material culture -- buildings, artifacts, and art

What evidence was saved, and where?  

Think about who might have collected the material you're hoping to find:

  • Published primary sources like newspapers, books, and government reports are likely to be held in libraries.
  • Unpublished documents and administrative records produced by national government agencies are likely to be held in national archives; those produced by local administrations are likely to be held in municipal record offices or state archives.
  • Materials produced by an organization or business will likely be held by that organization if it still exists; if it no longer exists, look for an affiliated organization or a library or archive that collects material on that topic.
  • Personal papers, diaries, and materials related to local history are likely to be held in local libraries or historical societies.
  • Museum, archives and libraries all have collections of art and artifacts as well as written records.

Some examples:

Guide adapted from Elizabeth Bennett, Librarian Emerita from Princeton University.