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What is a Primary Source?
Historical Primary Source
In the field of history, a primary source is an original document that gives historical evidence and, typically, was created at the time being studied, by someone with first-hand knowledge.
- Letter or diary
- Play script
- Census schedule or tax ledger
- Congressional debate or court record
- Manuscript (hand-written document) or archive
- Newspaper, radio and tv reports from a specific time period
Scientific Primary Source
In science, a primary source is an original report of an experiment or observation by the researcher.
- Articles presenting original research results
- Conference Papers
- Dissertations and theses
- Lab Notebooks
- Studies or Surveys
- Technical Reports
Finding Primary Sources
Duke Library Catalog
- Use Subject Headings with
- -personal narratives
- Motion picture producers and directors--United States--Interviews
- Authors, American--20th Century--Correspondence
- Primary sources in many formats--letters, diaries, oral histories, newspapers, pamphlets, zines, etc.--are available in Duke's Rubenstein Library, 316 Perkins.
- Reference staff are available to help researchers locate appropriate material.
Primary Source Databases
Numerical & Geospatial Data