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Course & Subject Guides

History Resources @ Pitt

This guide is designed to assist History students on the Oakland campus with their research. Includes links to other history guides.

What are primary sources?

Primary Sources

  • Original materials that provide direct evidence or first-hand testimony concerning a topic or event.
  • Primary sources can be contemporary sources created at the time when the event occurred (e.g., letters and newspaper articles) or later (e.g., memoirs and oral history interviews).
  • Primary sources may be published or unpublished.  Unpublished sources are unique materials (e.g., family papers) often referred to as archives and manuscripts.
  • What constitutes a primary source varies by discipline. How the researcher uses the source generally determines whether it is a primary source or not.

Primary Source Databases

Selected Primary Source Websites

This is a small sampling of the many primary source materials available on the Internet.