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Primary Sources Guide

How to find primary source materials in the McGraw-Page Library in a variety of disciplines

Primary Sources Guide

Primary Sources in the Humanities

Primary source provide a first-hand record of what happened and/or was experienced at a particular time and place.  These materials provide the raw material for interpretation and analysis by historians and other researchers.

The first step in finding primary sources in many cases is to review secondary sources on your topic.  The footnotes and bibliography sections of secondary sources will often include references to useful primary sources. Locating materials produced by an individual closely associated with the historical event is another good way to find relevant primary source material. 

Primary Source Databases

  • Founders Early Access    
    Unpublished documents written by figures such as James Madison, John Adams, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson available in a free online resource. 
  • Founders Online 
    Over 183,000 searchable documents, fully annotated, by George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams (and family), Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison.