My Accounts
Ask a Librarian
Library Hours
Search our Site
Finding and Using Primary Sources: Getting Started
A guide on defining, finding, and using primary resources in your research
Getting Started
Online Collections
Books & Ebooks
Newspapers
Magazines & Journals
Archives
Data & Stats
Multimedia
Citing Primary Sources
Ask a Librarian
Need Help?  Ask a Librarian for help finding primary sources in the library. 
Librarians are available from 9am to 12am most days to help you with your research. You can reach us in person, via chat, phone, or email.
 
About
Primary sources are those created contemporaneously to whatever period a researcher is studying. In contrast to secondary sources, they don't provide any analysis on a given topic after the fact; instead, they reflect on information or events as they unfolded (for example, a newspaper article, from the time of a particular historical event, discussing the historical event as it happened). Primary sources are especially useful for researchers because they reveal how certain topics and ideas were understood during a specific time and place. The particular primary sources you might use in your research, as well as how you find them, can vary a lot based on your field of study. This guide aims to provide helpful information on where to go about searching for primary sources, both at Duke and beyond.
Examples of Primary Sources (explore the other tabs for more info):
Location-Specific Resources
This guide is meant to cover primary sources in a generalized way. Duke Libraries also has a collection of guides that go over primary sources based on location. Check these out if you're looking for primary sources related to a particular history or place! Keep in mind, too, that many of our subject guides also provide some information about accessing primary sources related to specific subjects.
Location-Specific Primary Source Guides at Duke:
Created in 2021 by Anna Twiddy and Kaylee Alexander.
Last Updated: Jul 7, 2021 7:37 AM
URL: https://guides.library.duke.edu/primarysources
Print Page
Login to LibApps
Report a problem.
Contact Us
411 Chapel Drive
Durham, NC 27708
(919) 660-5870
Perkins Library Service Desk
Services for...
Alumni
Donors
Visitors
Patrons with Disabilities
Re-use & Attribution / Privacy
Support the Libraries
Menu Search & FindBooks & MediaArticlesOnline Journal TitlesResearch DatabasesFilm & VideoMusicData & Digital MapsImageseBooksNewspapersSpecial CollectionsDigitized CollectionsDuke Faculty Scholarly WorkTheses & DissertationsPrimary SourcesOur WebsiteDigitized CollectionsMore »Research GuidesUsing the LibraryBorrowingInterlibrary RequestsConnect from Off CampusLibrary PoliciesPlaces for EventsReserve a RoomFind Library SpacesFind Book LocationsWriting StudioComputer Labs & SoftwareTechnology LendingThe LinkLibrary Services for Duke AlumniMore »hoursservices for visitorsResearch SupportSubject SpecialistsResearch GuidesInternational ResearchScience ResearchHumanities ResearchCiting SourcesCitation ToolsCopyright in Research & TeachingPublish & Archive Your WorkData ServicesDigital Research ProjectsThe EdgeAvoiding PlagiarismMore »resources & services for coursesCourse SupportCourse ReservesTop TextbooksCourse GuidesTraining & WorkshopsDuke Learning InnovationLogin to SakaiTop TextbooksMore »subject specialistresearch guidescite sourcesLibrariesPerkins & Bostock LibrariesLilly LibraryMusic LibraryMarine Lab LibraryLibrary Service CenterRubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript LibraryDuke University ArchivesDuke Kunshan University LibraryDivinity School LibraryFord Library, Fuqua School of BusinessGoodson Law LibraryMedical Center LibraryRubenstein Library More »AboutHoursStaff & DepartmentsJobsDirections, Maps, ParkingContact UsNews & EventsExhibitsReports & Quick FactsSupport the LibrariesDuke Libraries MagazineMore »
HomeResearch SupportResearch GuidesHome LibGuides Finding and Using Primary Sources