... in Archives... in UTSA Databases... in Online Digital Collections... in Print Collections... in Government Info & Statistics
This is the "What's a Primary Source?" page of the "Primary Sources" guide.
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What are primary sources? What is the difference between a primary source and a secondary source?
Last Updated: May 25, 2016 URL: http://libguides.utsa.edu/primarysources Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

What's a Primary Source? Print Page

Where Can I Find Primary Source Materials?

The best place to start looking for primary sources is in the footnotes, endnotes, or bibliography of a good secondary source!

Find primary source materials at the UTSA Libraries: search our online catalog UCAT. Learn how.

Find primary source materials inonline Archives and Special Collections.

Some UTSA databases also contain primary source materials.

Did You Know?
... that often primary source materials can only be found by visiting Archives or Special Collections in person.

...that the UTSA Libraries have a Special Collections Department?


  What is a Primary Source?

Letter Newspapers Photograph Diary

Primary sources are records that provide first-hand testimony or evidence of an event, action, topic, or time period. Primary sources are usually created by individuals who directly experience an event or topic, and record their experience through photographs, videos, memoirs, correspondence, oral histories, or autobiographies.

Common Examples of PRIMARY Sources:
Letters, diaries, memoirs, speeches, interviews, photographs, notes, subject files, oral histories, autobiographies, travelogues, pamphlets, newspapers, newsletters, brochures, government documents including hearings, reports and statistical data, military service records, manuscripts, archival materials, artifacts, architectural plans, artistic works, works of fiction, music scores, and sound recordings.

Click here for a handout to help you analyze primary sources.

Is it, or isn't it?
Figuring out whether something is a primary or secondary source can be tricky. Sometimes it's not clear cut. For more tips on what to look for, visit this helpful website from Yale University.

Photo credits:
Letter, clipart.com

20072307 Days go by (Newspapers), Lollyman, photo available on Flickr.com
Washington, D.C. Company D 10th U.S. Veteran Reserve Corps, James Gardner, photographer, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-DIG-cwpb-04379 DLC]
writing in bed (Diary), louveciennes, photo available on Flickr.com.

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Shari Salisbury
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John Peace Library
University of Texas at San Antonio
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San Antonio, TX 78249

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Master of Library Science, SUNY Buffalo; BA Art History, Linguistics, and Women's Studies, SUNY Buffalo

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