Primary materials need to be carefully read and interpreted. Some questions to ask include:
A primary source is:
Primary sources are the evidence left behind by participants or observers of a given event or during a particular period of time. Historians use primary sources to support their interpretation of the past.
Examples of primary sources include
The availability and kinds of primary sources vary with time period and topic. For example in times of low literacy, there will be fewer documents and those that exist will come from a certain class of people (those that are literate) or from a governing source. Primary sources for earlier periods of time will be more scarce than for recent times. Though many primary sources have been transcribed and published, primary sources are usually in the original language (though some have been translated into English) so most material from the Russian Revolution is in Russian rather than English.
For links to primary sources available in the UNLV Libraries (these include collections online, in print and on microfilm) as well as to primary source collections freely available on the web see:
Photographs, drawings and other images provide information you can't always get from a text source. Images can provide details of everyday life such as clothing or material culture.
It is important to keep in mind that photographs are not an unbiased reflection of reality -- the photographer chooses what and how to depict a certain scene.
Keep in mind that non-UNLV students must be in the UNLV Libraries to use any of the links that include a lock icon.
American Memory from the Library of Congress provides a wide range of primary source materials in all the categories above.
The full text of letters and diary entries, often from works that have been previously published as books containing collections of letters or diaries. Use the Browse indexes to find works about specific historical or life events.
Use the date range limit to narrow your search to a relevant time period.
free online collections (find more on Historic Newspapers page)
lists and search tips
Search for articles published in popular magazines and journals from different times in history.
Collections of several types of primary sources curated around a topic or theme.
Freely available online collections
Microfilmed research collections