Research 101: Primary Sources

  • by Shauntee Burns

    What is a Primary Source? A primary source is an original document or object that was created at the time of your study.

    Primary Source in ABC-CLIO
    Example of a Primary Source in ABC-CLIO

    Try these databases for Primary Source information:

    Recommended Databases for Primary Sources

    African-American Experience
    Full-text digital resource exploring the history and culture of African Americans, as well as the greater Black Diaspora.

    American Indian Experience
    Full-text digital resource exploring the history and culture of American Indians.

    Biography in Context
    Look up anyone! Provides biographical information on anyone you can imagine.

    Defining moments in American History in an electronic book format.

    Latino American Experience
    Focused on the history and culture of Latinos from the pre-Columbian Indigenous civilizations of the Americas to now.

    Literature Resource Center
    Information on literary figures from all time periods.

    New York State Newspapers
    Have a project about a current event? Search the major New York newspapers.

    Opposing Viewpoints
    Articles presenting both sides of controversial issues.

    U.S. History in Context
    Has a variety of historical data, including photographs, illustrations, and maps.

    World History in Context
    Search a broad collection of events, movements, and individuals that have shaped world history.

    How to Access Databases

    Here’s how to access library databases:

    1. Go to

    2. Click on ‘Research’

    3. Click on ‘Articles and Databases.’ Databases are listed in alphabetical order.

    4. If you are not accessing the database from inside the library, enter the number on the back of your library card.

    Primary Sources in the Public Domain

    Did you know that more than 180,000 of the items in our Digital Collections are in the public domain?

    That means everyone has the freedom to enjoy and reuse these materials without restrictions. The Library now makes it possible to download such items in the highest resolution available directly from the Digital Collections website.

    Learn more about Using Public Domain Resources in the Classroom.