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York College of Pennsylvania, Schmidt Library


What is a primary source?

What is a primary source?

A primary source (also called an original source) is an eyewitness account, diary, article, or any other source of information that was created at the time. For example, if you are studying the American Revolution, an article from a newspaper written during the 1770s would be a primary source on the topic, as would a diary entry from a soldier at one of the battles. Historical documents are often our best sources for primary information.


Search here for primary newspapers, articles, and government documents.



The Early Republic : Primary Documents on Events from 1799 to 1820

Focuses on 26 pressing issues of the early republic. Each issue is presented with an introductory essay and multiple primary documents from the newspapers of the day, illustrating both sides of the debate.

American Decades Primary Sources

Cross-disciplinary source spanning the 20th century. Each volume in the set includes full or excerpted primary sources representing the seminal issues, themes, movements and events from a decade. Includes oral histories, songs, speeches, advertisements, TV, play and movie scripts, letters, laws, legal decisions, newspaper articles, cartoons, recipes, and more.

American Decades Primary Sources, v. 11: 2000-2009

This is the 11th volume in the American Decades Primary Sources series, covering the first decade of the 21st century. This is a cross-disciplinary source for researchers who need a single, consistent reference to explore and analyze the events, people and social trends that have impacted contemporary history. It covers world events, the arts, business and the economy, education, fashion, government and politics, law and justice, lifestyles and social trends, media, medicine and health, religion, science and technology, and sports.

Immigration and Multiculturalism: Essential Primary Sources

Contains primary source documents that focus on leading immigration & multicultural issues of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. International in scope.

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