Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Military and Veterans

The Eugene McDermott library values our active duty and veteran students, staff, and faculty. This guide offers useful sources and research tips to assist in finding research and services for military and veterans interest topics.

About: Primary Sources

What is a Primary Source?

A primary source is a first-hand account of an event, time period, or philosophical era.

A primary source may include:

  • diaries, journals, speeches, letters, interviews, office memos and other papers if the author was present at the event being written about
  •  memoirs and autobiographies which are describing events that the author was present for
  • government documents, such as census records
  • reports and minutes of organizations that reflect events, conditions and ideas of the time
  • books, journals and newspapers written at the time of the event in question
  • photographs, audio tapes, and film that document an event
  • research data documenting scientific data at the time
  • artifacts of all kinds, which may include buildings (architecture), household items, cave drawings, clothing, paintings, pottery

Primary sources do not include:

  • memoirs or autobiographies that reflect on an event that the author was not present for, unless it reflects the popular opinion of the time
  • a critical analysis of a work of literature that was written much later than the actual work
  • documentation of ideas or psychology of a time may be found in popular fiction, films, educational material etc produced during that time period
  • a critical analysis of an historical event that was written much later

Primary Sources in McDermott Library Databases