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Library Resources: Primary Sources: Home

Finding primary sources for history, science, literature, etc.

Key Sites

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience.-- from Library of Congress, “Using Primary Sources”

Examples of primary sources:

artifacts, audio recordings, autobiographies, captains’ logs, diaries, emails, eyewitness accounts, government and organization records, interviews, letters, market surveys, novels, patents, photographs, poems, polls, postcards, proceedings from meetings, reports on discoveries, science experiment data, speeches, videos, weather charts, works of art or music, some websites.

Custom Google Search

Use this box to search the web for primary sources. Only collections marked with an asterisk (*) in this guide will be searched.

Greek Fire

Image from a 12-century illuminated manuscript, the Madrid  Skylitzes, is in the public domain.

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Monday - Thursday: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
Friday: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Saturday: 12:00 pm - 4 pm on the following dates: 2/22, 3/7, 3/21, 4/18, 5/2
Closed Sundays

Extended Hours for Studython: May 13 and 14 until 10 pm; May 16 from 10 am - 7pm

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Reference Desk: (805) 591-6200 x 4410


Grateful acknowledgment is given to librarian Kelly L. Smith of the University of California, San Diego for the use of numerous links from her primary sources libguide.