Ask your professor or a librarian if you have questions about identifying or finding primary sources for a research project.
Primary sources provide direct evidence or firsthand testimony about the period or subject you're researching. Primary sources vary depending upon academic discipline and context.
Examples of primary sources include:
Primary sources are sometimes republished as books. Try a search in the library's catalog using keywords that describe your topic along with one or more of the following terms:
For example: "pioneer life diaries"
Preus Library has journals, magazines, and newspapers that go back many decades. Articles from newspapers and magazines written at the time an event occurred can be a good source of primary information. Check out the All Databases list for access to the newspapers and magazines available from Preus Library.
Historical newspapers are an excellent primary source for investigating events of a certain time period—and in our rapidly growing digital world, many of the major newspapers are available electronically going back to their inception. The Times Machine from the New York Times is one example of this. Chronicling America is another newspaper archiving project from the Library of Congress.
The Luther College Archives is located on the Upper Floor of Preus Library and is available for students during open research hours. The Archives contains the historical records of the college and the personal papers of people affiliated with the college. It is a rich resource of primary source materials on a wide variety of topics.
Many libraries, archives, and museums have digital versions of their collections, and can be an excellent resource for photographs, original documents, and reprints of diaries and letters. Some sites are specific to a certain event or era, while others provide more wide-ranging historical documents.
Examples of secondary sources include: