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What are Primary Sources?
Primary sources are first-hand documents or artifacts of particular interest to historians. These include recordings , photographs, paintings, personal diaries, films, or other objects that provide primary data. When you are looking for primary sources, pay attention to when the document or object was created, and by whom. A primary source will generally be something that provides information from a concurrent person, that is, a person who witnessed the particular event you are researching, or perhaps is even the subject of your research. For example, if you are doing a report on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War- primary sources would include: letters written by eyewitnesses of the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln's Diary, photographs of soldiers involved in the war, artifacts from the war like weapons, drawings, or even marching orders. Primary sources are preferred by historians because they provide a direct connection to people and events in the past.
Issues and Controversies in American History
Issues and Controversies in American History gives you a good overview of the opposing historical viewpoints at play on various issues. Articles also contain various primary sources that you can use as foundational elements of your research.
Links to Primary Sources in American History
This website contains documents, photographs, and links that are all part of a massive endevor to make the contents of the Library of Congress' American History collection available to as many people as possible.
Documents for the study of American history. Click the year, and comb through various crucial documents in the story of the United States.
Archives of the Missouri History Museum
The archive contains a digitized collection of primary source documents, photographs, and objects that you can browse from home.
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is a government agency whose task is to preserve and document government and historical records. The archive provides access to various primary sources including government documents.
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