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HNRS 110 Harnessing the Atom: Home

Primary vs. Secondary Resources

A primary source is a document or physical object written/created during the moment in time you are interested in researching. A primary source provides information directly from the source (a book written by Adolf Hitler). A secondary source provides information indirectly (a historian's recounting of research done on Hitler).

American University has helpful guide explaining the differences between primary and secondary sources here.


Tips for Finding Primary Resources

  • Citation mining: use secondary sources to help lead you to primary sources. Look at the bibliography/references section of your source for leads. Also look for published bibliographies on a particular topic. Many of these are available online--Wikipedia can sometimes be a helpful for finding these!

  • When using the search box on the Fintel Library homepage, try adding terms such as these along with your topic keywords: personal narrative, interview, journal, diary, correspondence, pamphlet, sources, speeches, manuscripts, documents, documentary etc.

  • Limit your searches by date depending on the time period of your topic/event.

  • Use the advanced Google search and include terms like "digital collection," "digital archive," etc. Also try limiting the site to .edu to because many digital collections are created by colleges and universities.

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