Last Updated: Apr 26, 2018     Views: 9

Different disciplines have different definitions of primary sources. But, generally speaking, a primary source is an original document relating to a particular subject, experiment, time period, or event.

  • Primary sources provide the raw information or data which scholars use in their research.
  • Examples include original scientific research articles, newspapers, correspondence, government documents (bills, laws, congressional hearings), or creative works such as performances and recordings.
  • Primary sources may be in their original format or may have been reproduced at a later date in a different format, such as a book, microfilm, video, or digital version.

Primary sources are also contextual; for instance, typically a textbook would not be considered a primary source, but if you use it to analyze how topics were taught during a particular time period it would be a primary source.        

The Library owns many primary source materials in print and online. Use Library Search when you know the title of a specific resource and want to know if it's available in the Library's collections. You can also visit the Claremont Colleges Digital Library and Special Collections.

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