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What is a Primary Source?

A primary source is usually a record made at the time of an event by participants or by firsthand observers, but a primary source might also be created many years after the event in the form of an autobiography, memoir, oral history, published papers, etc. (For example, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln was originally published in 1953, long after Lincoln's death.) For more information on primary sources, see this guide 

  • See the subpages to the left for links to different types of primary sources.
  • Check the bibliographies, footnotes, endnotes, etc. of the secondary sources that you find.