Do you need a primary source?
Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later. Primary sources are characterized by their content, regardless of whether they are available in original format, in microfilm/microfiche, in digital format, or in published format.
Determining what a primary source is can be tricky, and in no case is this more apparent than with books. From one vantage, books are the quintessential secondary source: scholars use primary source materials such as letters and diaries to write books, which are in turn secondary sources. However, books can also be a rich source of primary source material. In some instances, as in the case of published memoirs, autobiographies, and published documents, it is easy to determine when a book functions as a primary source.
Go to PeliCAT and click on Browse, then choose Subjects.
. Use subject terms
PeliCAT will display a list of books on your subject. Some will be secondary sources and some will be primary sources. Identify relevant secondary sources. These can lead you to primary sources because the author had to use primary sources to write his book. Locate the book and browse through the book looking at the book’s bibliography, footnotes, endnotes for other books that might have primary sources. Use PeliCAT to see if the Katharine Brush Library owns any of the cited works.
To obtain primary sources on PeliCAT, add the following terms to your subject search
Look for the words:
Primary sources can also be found in bibliographies. A bibliography is a list of sources: books, articles, newspapers, documents and reports on a particular subject. Bibliographies often appear at the end of research papers, books, encyclopedias, dissertations, and other works. They indicate publications consulted in the preparation of a book, article, dissertation, etc.
A bibliography can also be an entire book that focuses on a subject. It would list some or all of the following: books, articles, documents, and manuscripts. Keep in mind that a bibliography may list secondary sources as well as primary sources. You may find a bibliography by using PeliCAT.
FINDING PRIMARY SOURCES IN SERIALS (NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES)
A serial is a publication, such as a magazine, newspaper, or scholarly journal, that is published in ongoing installments. Like books, serials can function both as primary sources and secondary sources depending on how one approaches them. Age is an important factor in determining whether a serial publication is primarily a primary or a secondary source. For instance, an article on slavery in a recent issue of the Journal of Southern History should be read as a secondary source, as a scholar's attempt to interpret primary source materials such as ledgers, diaries, or government documents in order to write an account of the past. An article on slavery published in the Journal of Southern History in 1935, however, can be read not only as a secondary source on slavery but also - and perhaps more appropriately - it can be read as a primary source that reveals how scholars in the 1930s interpreted slavery.
FINDING PRIMARY SOURCES IN NEWSPAPERS
Primary sources can be found in newspapers and they may take be in the following forms:
· Eyewitness accounts of an event.
· Statements or quotes on an issue.
· Editorials that express a public opinion.
· Interviews with significant persons.
· Reprint of important documents.
MAJOR NEWSPAPERS SUBSCRIBED TO, ON MICROFILM, ONLINE AND INDEXED AT THE KATHARINE BRUSH LIBRARY
Print and Microfilm
Connecticut Courant, 1779-1788—Microfilm
The Hartford Courant—Print for10 weeks.
The Hartford Times, 1817-1862-- Microfilm
Stars and Stripes, Dec. 1942-1943--Microfilm.
The Wall Street Journal—Print for 10 weeks
USA Today—Print for 10 weeks
Birth of a Nation, 1763-1783: a chronological guide and index REF Z1237 .J63
The Providence Gazette, 1762-1825—Microfilm
*Newspapers and Indexes Online
iCONN Newsstand provides full-text coverage of The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Hartford Courant, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times (including the New York Times Book Review and the New York Times Magazine), The Wall Street Journal and TheWashington Post. Coverage as early as 1980. Remote access via public library id card and as a resident of the State of Connecticut.
·ProQuest Historical Newspapers is a collection of newspapers that includes The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Chicago Defender, The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Atlanta Constitution and The Boston Globe and The Hartford Courant. All databases are full-text in their original form, full-image and cover-to-cover indexing. Remote access available. See librarians about username and password.
Lexis-Nexis Scholastic Universe News Module provides full-text access to more than 65 newspapers including The New York Times and Boston Globe, full text to 40 magazines, several full-text foreign language newspapers, access to hard-to-find broadcast transcripts and a legislative module that locates federal and state bill text, bill tracking reports, and speeches from both houses of the U.S. Congress. No remote access.
*See the Electronic Resources sheet for usernames and passwords for remote access.
Periodicals are good sources for primary information. To find periodical information (magazine), consult The Katharine Brush Guide to Periodicals for periodicals subscribed to by the Library and the ownership of online periodical indexes and databases (Readers’ Guide Retrospective. Expanded Academic, and JSTOR
Choose an appropriate index to search your subject
If the magazine article is a secondary source, locate and browse through the article, looking for primary sources used by the author to write the article.
Pay attention to footnotes, endnotes, bibliographies, supplementary reading lists, etc.
As with newspapers, look over periodical information for evidence of:
Statements or quotes on an issue
Full-text of speeches
Interviews with significant persons
Reprints of important documents
PERIODICAL INDEXES AT THE KATHARINE BRUSH LIBRARY
American Heritage, 1954-1982 REF E 171 .A431
The Nation Reference Shelf
National Geographic, 1888-1988, 1989-1991 Supplement REF G1 .N2
Expanded Academic ASAP is a premier database for periodicals for research in all the academic disciplines! Unparalleled in its depth and scope, this premier full-text database offers balanced coverage of every academic concentration from advertising and microbiology to history and women's studies. Remote access available via public library card or as a resident of the State of Connecticut.
JSTOR offers researchers the ability to retrieve high-resolution, scanned images of journal issues and pages as they were originally designed, printed, and illustrated. Content in JSTOR spans many disciplines. JSTOR began as an effort to ease the increasing problems faced by libraries seeking to provide adequate shelf space for the long runs of backfiles of scholarly journals. JSTOR is not a current issues database. Because of JSTOR 's archival mission, there is a gap, typically from 1 to 5 years, between the most recently published journal issue and the content available in JSTOR . Remote access available. Ask librarians for username and password. Note: For remote users, the URL is http://www.jstor.org/logon
SIRS Researcher provides thousands of full-text articles on a variety of social, scientific, health, historic, economic, business, political and global issues. Articles are selected from around 1500 newspapers, magazines, journals and government publications. Information can be found in the main full-text database, and these additional content databases: Today's News- The top national and global headline news stories are dynamically updated and delivered hourly; Maps of the World - Nearly 300 detailed, colorful maps are available as an online reference almanac; World Almanac® Excerpts - Articles about world history, profiles of all the nations of the world, and other important facts; Directory of Publications - Background information on 1,500 U.S. and international magazines, newspapers and journals; Spotlight of the Month - Articles that have been selected as a sampling from the SIRS Researcher database to encourage research and awareness of topical issues. Remote access available. See librarians for username and password.
Readers' Guide Retrospective gives the researcher the acclaimed Readers' Guide to Periodicals online as well as access to 512 periodicals, updated subject headings reconciled for uniformity throughout the years, original headings with original images from Readers' Guide volumes and cross references to other headings. Coverage dates: 1892-1983. Remote access available. See librarians about username and password.
*See the Electronic Resources sheet for usernames and passwords for remote.
A government's documents are direct evidence of its activities, functions, and policies. For any research that relates to the workings of government, government documents are indispensible primary sources.
A wide range of primary sources are found in government documents: the hearings and debates of legislative bodies; the official text of laws, regulations and treaties; records of government expenditures and finances; statistical compilations such as census data; investigative reports; scientific data; and many other sources that touch virtually all aspects of society and human endeavor. This information comes in a similarly wide variety of formats, including books, periodicals, maps, CD-ROMs, microfiche, and online databases.
What makes all these sources "government documents"? What all these sources have in common is that they are published or otherwise made available to the general public by a government for the general public, at government expense or as required by law. They are a government's official "voice." Government documents are usually housed in separate sections of libraries, and have their own specialized arrangement and finding aids.
Note that government document collections typically do not include primary legal sources such as court decisions and law codes, which are often published by for-profit publishers and are found either in the main library collection or in separate law libraries.
For decades the U.S. government has been the largest publisher in the world, but government documents are also produced by regional, state, and local governments, and by international bodies such as the United Nations and the European Union.
For Loomis Chaffee students, many government documents may be found on the Internet. Using Resourcefinder, you may find some government documents by clicking on “Government Documents.” There are several links to legislative and judicial decisions. Note the scope of the Congressional Record and access to Supreme Court decisions.
It may be necessary for you to visit academic libraries, especially those that are government documents depositories. Yale University is one of them. We do not have interlibrary loan privileges and borrowing privileges with Yale, but the following is a link to their index to Government documents.
FINDING PRIMARY SOURCES IN ARCHIVES AND MANUSCRIPTS
Manuscript and archival materials are unique resources that can be found in only one library or institution (though digital copies or copies on microfilm or microfiche may be available elsewhere). They are valuable primary source material for researchers in many fields of study, including history, political science, sociology, literature, journalism, cultural anthropology, health sciences, law, and education. Manuscripts and archival materials are distinct from other library materials in the ways they are described, accessed, handled and evaluated. Manuscripts and archives are unpublished primary sources. The term archives, when it refers to documents, as opposed to a place where documents are held, refers to the records made or received and maintained by an institution or organization in pursuance of its legal obligations or in the transaction of its business. The term manuscripts, which originally referred to handwritten items, refers now to a body of papers of an individual or a family. Both terms can encompasses a broad array of documents and records of numerous formats and types. Archival records or manuscripts may include business and personal correspondence, diaries and journals, legal and financial documents, photographs, maps, architectural drawings, objects, oral histories, computer tape, video and audio cassettes.
To locate sources in archives, many academic libraries have access to databases that locate collections. Sometimes a “Google” search may provide you with locations of special collections and manuscripts. However, it is most doubtful that those special manuscripts or collections are available online or can be borrowed.
Once functional objects used by people, realia and artifacts convey important information about the lives and histories of peoples. Realia and artifacts are three-dimensional and unlike two-dimensional objects such as books and manuscripts, can be either man-made or naturally occurring. While all collected realia and artifacts are deemed as having documentary value, some are valued for their intrinsic worth, others for their artistic merit, and others for their historical significance or scientific value. Realia and artifacts commonly used for research are:
The term "visual material" refers to any primary source in which images, instead of or in conjunction with words and/or sounds, are used to convey meaning. Some common and useful types of visual materials are as follows:
Any of these materials can provide valuable information to a researcher. Factual information can often be extracted from visual materials; however, the best information imparted by these materials is often of a subjective nature, providing insight into how people see themselves and the world in which they exist.
Sources for Visual Material:
AP Photo Archive
American Memory (The Library of Congress)
The creation, performance, significance, and definition of music vary according to culture and context. For purposes of discourse and research, music is categorized and subcategorized, although the relationships between categories are often unclear and controversial. Music is, on the whole, the art and science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds to produce beauty of form, harmony, melody, rhythm, and expressive content and it is that content, composition, and performance which can be the subject of not only music-related, but interdisciplinary, study.
Resources commonly used for research in music are:
Resources such as these can reveal information about the production and performance of music, aural traditions, histories of musical composition, notation, and technique, information about music theory and about individuals' and cultures' technological advancement, economy, education, cognition, and more.
Most of music resources mentioned above are not available at Loomis Chaffee, but could be available at academic libraries or perhaps on the Internet.
Sound recordings include not only music but also the spoken word - poetry, plays, speeches, etc.
Loomis Chaffee does have sound recordings on CD. Please check PeliCAT. Other libraries have more extensive collections. The individual library determines what can be borrowed.
Oral history interviews and video memoirs provide important perspectives for historians. Since the invention of the tape recorder in the 1950s, oral history projects of many kinds have proliferated, ranging from the "man-on-the-street" type of interview to the more formal Presidential archives.
A source for oral history is:
In the First Person
Dissertations are book-length studies based on original research and written in partial fulfillment of requirements for the doctoral degree. Although usually secondary sources, dissertations can themselves be primary sources or can be extremely helpful in identifying and locating primary sources.
Dissertations that can be primary sources might be edited versions of texts or could be used to analyze the influence of a professor on a generation of graduate students and, by extension, on the teaching and writing in a discipline over a period of time. Because a dissertation is based on original research, its bibliography will contain references to primary sources used by the author and can often lead to manuscripts, diaries, newspapers and other primary material of interest.
The Internet has increasingly become a fine source for primary sources. However, since anyone and anything can be posted on the Internet, information retrieved must be evaluated. Be aware that the World Wide Web is only one small aspect of the Internet. Speak to your teacher or a librarian about sources not indexed in the World Wide Web, but in the “invisible web.” Most primary sources in history can be found in some of the universities or through the government. However, individuals have posted some remarkable web sites. Many good primary sources can be found on the Library’s part of the School web site under Academics, Brush Library, “Resources Sorted by Discipline”, American History or Political Science or in other vetted library databases under Academics, Brush Library, “Student and Faculty Only Links.” Other primary sources can be found in other disciplines.
If you are looking for collections, papers, etc., you might want to start with a “Google” search. Be aware that you want to evaluate any web site that you look at. Google is excellent at giving you leads to where the primary sources are. Sometimes these leads, lead you do to databases or collections to which you cannot access without being a subscriber or paying for the information. It may be an archive, museum or collection that cannot be borrowed. In that event, please consult with librarian to determine that’s resource’s availability.
Primary Source Databases on the Internet that KBL owns:
OTHER PRIMARY SOURCES
Historical Resources on Microfilm
American Whig Review, 1845-1847
Birth of America, 1763-1783
The Connecticut Courant, 1779-1788
Debow’s Review, 1861-1867
Godey’s Lady _s Book, 1849
The Hartford Times, 1817-1862
McClure’s Magazine, June 1893-1914
Negro History Bulletin, 1970-1983
Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine, 1868-1871
The Providence Gazette, 1762-1825
Stars and Stripes, Dec. 1942-1943
Harper’s Magazine, 1855-1900