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Subjects: Accountancy, Accounting, Advanced Energy and Fuel Management, Aerospace Studies, Africana Studies, Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural Systems and Education, Anthropology, Architectural Studies, Architecture, Army Military Science, Art, Art and Design, Art Education, Art History, Automotive Technology, Aviation Flight, Aviation Management, Aviation Technologies, Behavior Analysis and Therapy, Biomedical Engineering, Biomedical Science, Business, Business Administration, Business Analytics, Business and Administration, Child and Family Services, Cinema, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Communication Studies, Computer Engineering, Counseling and Rehabilitation Education, Creative Writing, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Curriculum and Instruction, Cybersecurity and Cyber Systems, Early Childhood, Econometrics and Quantitative Economics, Economics, Education, Educational Administration, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Elementary Education, English, Environmental Resources Policy, Exercise Science, Fashion Studies, Finance, Forensic Science, Game Design and Development, Geography and Environmental Resources, Geosciences, Global Studies, Health Administration, Higher Education, History, Human Sciences, Industrial Design, Information Technology, Interior Design, Journalism, Languages, Cultures, and International Studies, Latino and Latin American Studies, Linguistics, Management, Marketing, Mass Communication and Media Arts, Mechanical Engineering and Energy Processes, Media Theory and Research, Medical Dosimetry, Medical Science, Molecular Biology, Microbiology, and Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular, and Systemic Physiology, Music, Musical Theater, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Paralegal Studies, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, Philosophy, Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems, Political Science, Professional Media and Media Management Studies, Psychology, Public Administration, Public and Nonprofit Administration, Public Safety Management, Quality Engineering and Management, Quantitative Methods Education, Radio, Television, and Digital Media, Radiological Sciences, Social Work, Sociology, Special Education, Sport Administration, STEM Leadership, Strategic Analytics, Teacher Education Program, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Technical Resource Management, Theater, University Honors, University Studies, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Workforce Education and Development

Suggested Readings

Search Morris Library's Catalog

Search for books, ebooks, journals, government documents, DVDs, CDs, and more.

 

Can't find it at Morris?

Request items from around the world through Interlibrary Loan. Check and request books from I-Share first before requesting books through this service. 

Dissertations and Theses

For in-depth arguments (often) not yet published, try these databases of dissertations and theses.

What is a Primary Source?

A primary source is firsthand testimony or direct evidence that is usually recorded or created during the time period of the topic under investigation.

This differs from a secondary source, which interprets or analyzes historical events, and can be recorded or created anywhere from days to centuries later.

Locating and Evaluating Primary Sources

There are a number of ways to locate and access primary sources:

  • Reprinted sources published in books or collections, i.e. diaries, correspondence, speeches
  • Digital library initiatives such as the Library of Congress’ American Memory Digital Library. (internet search)
  • Original materials housed in archives and manuscript repositories. (internet search; published directories of archives and manuscript repositories)

The ability to determine the authenticity and research value of primary source material is a skill that needs to be developed over time. There are a number of criteria that should be considered when evaluating each source, including:

  • Author/Creator: How well situated was s/he to observe or record the events in question? What was the author’s physical location? Were they an eyewitness or did they get the information from another?
  • Content: What is the document about?
  • Additional information: What else do you need to know in order to fully understand the document – do you need to look up names, places, dates, and/or technical terms?
  • Date of creation: How soon after the event was the record created?
  • Intended audience: When, how, and for whom was the record created?
  • Potential biases: Is there bias, either in the report or in yourself that must be accounted for? Might the person’s social or economic position have influenced knowledge that could affect the credibility of the record?
  • Authenticity: Is it original, digital, reprinted, etc.?
  • Reliability: Is there corroboration?
  • Is it relevant to your research?

Primary Source Databases

Government Documents

Government documents can be excellent primary sources for use in history papers and projects. We have created a guide with detailed information about the many different types of government documents available through Morris Library:

OpenSIUC

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