What is a Primary Source?
Primary sources are a key part of research for many disciplines, including history and the social sciences. A primary source is any source of information that provides immediate, first-hand information about a topic, an event, etc. that is written or created by the people or person who experienced it. A secondary source interprets or analyzes information from primary sources. However, there are some differences between academic disciplines in what is considered to be primary source material. The Lafayette College Library describes those differences in this way:
Primary sources for the sciences can be found in journals by searching for articles using terms such as "experiments" or "reports", but many reference works also include primary source documents as part of their appendices or supplementary materials. CR's Credo Reference database contains many of these primary sources, and we've created this LibGuide to help you find and use them more easily.
Unlike secondary sources, primary sources are often created by an individual or group and demonstrate their understanding of events. Thus, these works often express a singular point of view, some of which have been disproven with time. When using primary sources, it is important to consider who created the source and under what context, as well as the state of the world at the time that the source was created.
As you go through the materials on the various tabs in this guide, please note that most of the materials listed are contained in library databases and will require a login (see the box below for more information).
If you are off campus or using a wireless device while on campus, you may be prompted to login to get into the library's subscription databases. In that case, this is what you will see:
Remote login is required to prove that you are a student at College of the Redwoods, because these library databases are not free, open website available to anyone. Library resources are valuable and often expensive, because the information provided is reliable, credible, and based on a lot of work by many people. The library pays for student, faculty, and staff access.