Primary sources include three main types:
Archives & Manuscripts
Books written during the period for your topic (e.g., during the 1780s), books written by key participants of an event, published collections of correspondence and other personal writings, memoirs and reprints of primary source material.
Newspapers providing a first rough draft of events. Popular magazines (news, fashion, sports, etc.) also provide a good feel for the period. In addition to the articles, the illustrations and advertisements that are embedded in magazines
and newspapers are useful primary sources.
The Federal Government (as well as state & local) produces a wide array of publications ranging
from Congressional bills, debates, hearings and reports to agency research publications, maps and posters.
Official governmental publications provide insight into all aspects of history from social issues to politics,
from cultural mores to scientific endeavor.
Manuscript materials are unpublished sources such as letters, diaries and organizational and company records.
Letters and diaries provide a personal angle on history and often gives voice to the common person such as the WWI soldier in the trenches or ths sweetheart on the homefront.
Photographs, drawings and other images provide information you can't always get from a text source. Images can provide details of everyday life such as clothing and material culture.
Many photographs do not provide much context, may not even provide an exact date or location. You will need to analyze photographs for clues.
Maps provide a spatial dimension and can reveal aspects of a neighborhood that may not be visible at first glance such as transport networks and environmental dimensions.
Oral histories provide a unique, personal angle on history and often gives voice to the everyday person.
They are by their very nature subjective and individualistic, shaped by the interview questions,
as well as the interpersonal dynamic between interviewer and interviewee.
Music and sound recordings, as well as album covers and sheet music, provide insight into popular culture of a time and can reveal conventions concerning race, gender, and other societal mores. Some music may have an overtly political or social message that illustrate the concerns of the time