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Primary Sources for History

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Nicole Arnold
Subjects: Classics, German, History

What is an historical primary source?

DEFINITION: Primary sources are original sources created at the time a historical event occurs (or possibly afterwards) and are directly associated with their creater (or user). Essentially, a primary source is the subjective interpretation of a witness to an event. Primary sources serve as the raw materials historians use to interpret / analyze the past.

Some examples include:

 Diaries     Memoirs     Letters     Advertisements
 Speeches     Newspapers     Interviews     Government Documents   
 Photographs     Works of Art     Wills  Audio / Video Recordings
 Maps  Manuscripts     Research Data     Ancient Artifacts


collage of primary sources