Who needs to know what a primary resource is?

Everyone. Regardless of major it is important when writing a paper to know what your professor wants when they mean a primary resource. If in doubt, ask a librarian or talk to your professor. In general though, the following explanation of the categories is consistent regardless of field of study.


Primary
Oral histories, autobiographies, letters, diaries, photographs/artwork, some newspaper articles, some books, and some movies/TV footage, i.e. live WWII footage, or fall of the Berlin Wall (good rule of thumb: written about, presented by, or produced by an eyewitness)
Secondary
Biographies, critical essays, commentaries, some newspaper articles, most books, most journal articles, and movies/documentaries (good rule of thumb: written based mostly on primary sources and some secondary)
Tertiary
Student papers, some books, some journal articles, some newspapers articles (good rule of thumb: if it is reliant solely or almost completely on secondary sources)

Title searching in the library's catalog requires you to enclose your title in quotation marks. For example you could search, "Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" or "Complete Works of Michelangelo". When searching for an exact title leave off the 'the,' the 'a' and the 'an' at the beginning of the title.


Author searching is the same, only invert the author's name: "Marx, Karl" or "Newton, Isaac". In the library world, we organize people by their last name, not their first name.


Subject searching is a more targeted search than just typing words into a search bar. Subject terms are "official keywords" for a person, place, event, and/or historical time period. To find subject headings on your subject go to the Library of Congress LC Subject Headings search page. Once you find the official keywords to find books on your topic, you are able to use them in our catalog, for example "Francis of Assisi Saint 1182-1226" or "Vietnam War 1961-1975".


Just because we no longer have an advanced search feature does not mean you cannot create your own compound search. For example, you are doing a search on Plato: Plato and Greece; or Plato not Socrates. However, a compound search that includes a specific publication date range can now only be conducted from the results page of your search.

Here is a list of the primary source databases at the Proctor Library.

African American Newspapers (1827-1998):
African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 provides online access to approximately 270 U.S. newspapers chronicling a century and a half of the African American experience.

Black Freedom Struggle:
Primary source collection that includes government, organizational, and personal files covering the history of African-Americans in the United States between 1910 to the early 1980’s. FBI files and NAACP files are included.

Also known as:

History Vault by ProQuest:
Primary source collection that includes government, organizational, and personal files covering the history of African-Americans in the United States between 1910 to the early 1980’s. FBI files and NAACP files are included.

Civil Rights Library of St. Augustine:
A digital archive of primary source materials that document the history of St. Augustine’s civil rights movement.

Flagler College Digital Archives:
The Digital Archives consists of Flagler College yearbooks, college catalogs, the Flagler Review magazine, and a selection of photographs ranging from the late 19th century to the present.

Social and Cultural History: Letters and Diaries Online:
This is our only database devoted to just primary sources and it is made up of the following six modules: North American Women’s Letters and Diaries; British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries; North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories; The American Civil War: Letters and Diaries; Black Thought and Culture; and Manuscript Women’s Letters and Diaries.

Consult the Writing Manual of choice for your field of study. This should be listed on your syllabus.

Primary Sources are cited based on the format in which you used them rather than by type of content. If you are citing the "Declaration of Independence" found in an anthology of early American documents, than you cite it as a chapter in a book. If you used the copy of the "Declaration of Independence" as shown on the National Archives' website, than you cite it as a webpage.

For help, use the Library's Citation Help page, or ask a librarian.

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