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FYS 100 - Raid the Collections / Barlow, Amy

Fall 2022 - Resources for Project 1: Biography of an Artifact
Subjects: First Year Seminar

Welcome, first year students!


This course guide contains recommended tools and resources for finding primary and secondary sources for your artifact biographies. 


What is a primary source?

Primary sources are the raw materials of historical research and writing. They usually found in archives, such as the Special Collections department of the Adams Library, but also in some cases in digitized collections on the internet or library stacks (such as in the case of old books, government documents, journals, etc.). Primary sources are materials that come from roughly the same time period of the artifact, person, or event that the researcher has chosen to study.


Examples of primary sources include:

  • Vital records -
  • Government records -
  • Court proceedings
  • Personal documents, diaries, memoirs, letters, and photographs
  • Published newspaper articles, magazine articles, and books from the time period
  • Film, music, art, etc. from the time period


What is a secondary source?

Secondary sources are the books and articles produced by scholars and professionals. In History, a secondary source is a piece of historical writing that is anchored in primary sources and informed by other secondary sources.


Examples of secondary sources include:

  • Academic books
  • Academic articles
  • Web content published by academic, government, and cultural heritage organizations
  • Non-academic articles, books, and web content that utilize and interpret primary sources (these need to be scrutinized and shown to be credible)