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 documents and artifacts from the time period under study, such as:
Primary sources also include writings and recordings by witnesses who experienced the events or conditions being documented, such as:
See the Find Books at WPI page of this guide for help finding slave narratives (autobiographies and memoirs by formerly enslaved people).
Sometimes collections of primary source documents are republished in books. To find books like these, search WPI Library Search for books about your topic and add keywords such as journals, papers, letters, documents, primary sources, documentary history, or sourcebook to your search terms. You can also look for memoirs or autobiographies to find first-hand accounts of historical events.
Here are some examples of books containing primary sources:
To find primary sources via Google, try adding keywords like journals, papers, letters, documents, primary sources, or documentary history to your search terms. Primary sources can often be found on library, museum, and government websites.
Here are some examples of websites that have primary sources for the history of enslavement in America:
Frederick Douglass, "An Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage," 1881
The contents of The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress are in the public domain and are free to use and reuse.