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Finding Primary Sources: Looking for primary sources? Start here!

A guide to finding primary source accounts of United States history at the Valley Cottage Library.

What is a Primary Source?

A primary source is a document that was created during the period you are researching.

Examples of primary sources include:

  • Artwork, artifacts, photographs
  • Journals, diaries, letters
  • Speeches, interviews, transcripts
  • Newspaper articles, news footage
  • Official documents and records
  • Maps
  • Novels, plays, and songs created during that time period.
  • Autobiographies, memoirs

For the most part, the primary sources that are available at the Valley Cottage Library are reproductions of the original documents printed in books or available digitally online.  Although they are reproductions, they are still considered primary sources.  (The originals are probably housed in museums or special archives collections!)

Finding Primary Sources

At the Valley Cottage Library, you can find American History primary sources several ways.

You can search

  • Databases- Online collections of digital documents
  • Reference books- Books that stay in the library
  • Websites- Reliable, librarian-approved online sources for primary documents
  • Books- Available in the the children's, teen, and adult collections

This guide provides lists of all the above sources.  If you need help, please ask a librarian!