The following is a select list of resources and strategies for starting research using primary sources. For further assistance, ask at the Reference Desk or contact the Subject Specialist Librarian for your subject area.
This site is adapted for the University of Oregon Libraries from the UC Berkeley page Library Research Using Primary Sources by by Corliss Lee.
Off-campus access to some of the electronic resources listed on this page is limited to current UO students, faculty, and staff and is indicated by a UO lock .
UO Libraries primary sources collections offer extraordinary research opportunities. Particular strengths include Oregon heritage: history and politics, the University of Oregon, documentary photography, lives of women, intentional communities and alternative voices, pioneers and tribal peoples. With thousands of complex collections to choose from, finding just what you need can be hard. We offer the following resources:
"A primary source is a document, image, or artifact that provides evidence about the past. It is an original document created contemporaneously with the event under discussion. A direct quote from such a document is classified as a primary source. A secondary source is a book, article, film, or museum that displays primary sources selectively in order to interpret the past." Robert C. Williams, The Historian's Toolbox: A Student's Guide to the Theory and Craft of History, p.58
Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during a historical event or time period. A primary source reflects the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer. Many primary sources are unique and can only be found in one library or manuscript collection in the world. Fortunately, many have also been copied onto microfilm, published, reissued, translated, or, in some instances, published digitally on the web. Remember, however, your best source may not be on the web.
Some examples of primary sources include: