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START HERE to explore resources available in historical research.

What Are Primary Resources?

"Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories."

Primary sources may include letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, memoirs, documents produced by government agencies, photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures or video recordings.

-- ALA | Using Primary Sources on the Web. American Library Association, 10 Jan. 2008. Web. 4 Jan. 2011.

Online Collections of Primary Source Material

Searching the Catalog for Primary Sources

Primary source material can be found throughout the print and microform collections of the Calvin T. Ryan Library.  Try searching on your topic and adding one of these keywords:

  • correspondence
  • narratives
  • diaries
  • interviews
  • letters

Example:  Ulysses Grant letters


Free Primary Sources

Library of American Civilization

Calvin T. Ryan Library holds thousands of microfiche from the Library of American Civilization (LAC) and Library of English Literature (LEL) collections.  These provide a wealth of primary source material for researchers. Some LAC and LEL contents are now freely available through Google Books. 

Click on the PDF link below for instructions on how to best search and access these primary source collections.