Primary sources are original writings on a subject that have not been filtered through analysis or evaluation. They provide first-hand accounts generated by the people directly involved in an event, activity or discovery. Students can use primary sources to:
• Develop critical thinking skills by analysing information themselves
• Consider different perspectives and relate to information in a personal way
Primary sources in the sciences generally take the form of journal articles that report direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. The journal articles are easily accessed through many of the University Library’s databases.
In the humanities and social sciences, primary sources may also take the form of first-hand testimonies or works of art or fiction. Use the Library catalogue to find these types of primary resources, as well as manuscript collections such as the Gerritsen Collection of Women’s History.
The Library also provides access to primary sources via many specialized databases.
Letters, diaries and personal narratives can be obtained through:
• Early Encounters in North America
• Oral History Online
Photographs, playbills and original art can be accessed via:
• North American Theatre Online
Musical recordings can be located through:
• Classical Music Library
• Virtual Gramophone
For additional information, please contact your subject liaison librarian or ask at the Information Services Desk. Library Databases is a monthly feature by Librarian Judy Vogt. Please e-mail your story suggestions to Vogt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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