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HI 1314: Introduction to Early American History: Primary Sources

Professor Steven C Bullock

Primary Sources for History

Primary sources are materials that provide firsthand testimony to a subject under investigation. Researchers often use these firsthand accounts of specific events to understand events from the viewpoint of people living during that time period. Primary sources include letters, diaries, photographs, newspaper articles, and pamphlets. Primary sources also include writings and recordings by witnesses who experienced the events or conditions being documented. For example, oral histories, autobiographies, and memoirs are primary sources.

Where to Look for Primary Sources

Primary source materials can be found in a variety of locations, including within books, newspapers, article bibliographies, and archives or manuscripts collections. 

Archives and Special Collections at WPI

WPI's Archives and Special Collections offer great resources for primary sources. To learn more about the Archives' collections or to schedule a visit to the Archives, please call 508-831-6112 or e-mail

Primary Sources: Library Databases