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GSF 390S.02: Fabricating Race - Art, Clothing, Resistance

Director, John Hope Franklin Research Center

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John Gartrell
Director, John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture

Box 90185

Durham, NC 27708


Citing Primary Sources

Tips and Sources for Citing Primary Material
Duke's "Citing Primary Sources" LibGuide provides resources to help you properly cite primary sources, showing that you've done your research and making it possible for other scholars to find the same material you used. We focus on material held at the Rubenstein Library or in our Digital Collections and use The Chicago Manual of Style in this guide, but the same principles will apply, no matter where you found your primary source or which style guide you're using. Remember, when in doubt, you can always ask


Primary sources are those created contemporaneously to whatever period a researcher is studying. In contrast to secondary sources, they don't provide any analysis on a given topic after the fact; instead, they reflect on information or events as they unfolded (for example, a newspaper article, from the time of a particular historical event, discussing the historical event as it happened). Primary sources are especially useful for researchers because they reveal how certain topics and ideas were understood during a specific time and place. The particular primary sources you might use in your research, as well as how you find them, can vary a lot based on your field of study. This guide aims to provide helpful information on where to go about searching for primary sources, both at Duke and beyond.

Examples of Primary Sources:

  • Photographs/images
  • Newspapers
  • Government records
  • Artifacts
  • Pamphlets and other ephemeral material
  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • Advertisements

Online Collections at Duke

Did you know that Duke has digitized over 1000 collections from its physical collections and archives? These collections can be a great place to start when looking for primary sources.

Want more information on this resource? Rubenstein Library's page on teaching with digital collections can tell you more.

Michael Francis Blake and James Van Der Zee Exhibit

Self portraits of Michael Francis Blake and James Van Der Zee from Rubenstein exhibit that displayed through October 17, 2021. 

The Rubenstein library holds an archive of Van Der Zee's photographs