Understanding primary sources
If you are seeking to learn about the past, primary sources of information are those that provide first-hand accounts of the events, practices, or conditions you are researching. In general, these are documents that were created by the witnesses or first recorders of these events at about the time they occurred, and include diaries, letters, reports, photographs, creative works, financial records, memos, and newspaper articles (to name just a few types).
Primary sources also include first-hand accounts that were documented later, such as autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories. However, the most useful primary sources are usually considered to be those that were created closest to the time period you’re researching.
Determining which kinds of documents constitute primary sources depends upon the topic you’re researching. (For example, sometimes the same book or article could be considered a primary source for one research topic and a secondary source for a different topic.)
For Example: The paiting of Washington Crossing The Delaware, by Emanuel Leutze was painted in 1851.
This paiting is both a primary and secondary source depending on what you are researching.
It is a primary source if you are studying the painter Emanuel Leutze or art and paintings from the late 19th centurary.
It is a secondary source if you are studying the American Revolution or the actual event of Washington crossing the Delaware, this is because the events depicted in the painting took place in 1776, over 50 years before the painting was painted. Emanuel Leutze was not present for the events he is depicting so it cannot be a primary source for those events.
Castro Speech Database - LANIC
Digital Libraries of Rare Books in Spain
This database includes speeches, interviews, etc., by Fidel Castro from 1959 to 1996. All texts are in English. If you would like more recent speeches or texts in Spanish, please consult Discursos e Intervenciones de Fidel Castro
Dissertations and Theses Global (ProQuest)
List of libraries with digitalized rare books.
Gallica Digital Library (BnF) : Presse et Revues
A comprehensive collection of dissertations and theses with over 2.4 million dissertations and theses included from around the world.The database offers full text for most of the dissertations added since 1997 and strong retrospective full text coverage for older graduate works. Each dissertation published since July 1980 includes a 350-word abstract written by the author. Master's theses published since 1988 include 150-word abstracts. Bibliographic citations are available for dissertations dating from 1637, and more than 65,000 new citations are added to the database every year. Where available, PQDT provides 24 Page Previews of dissertations and theses. In addition, nearly one million are available for download in PDF format. (Digital dissertations and theses are archived as submitted by the degree-granting institution. Some will be Native PDF, some PDF Image).
MLA Literary Research Guide
Bibliothèque nationale de France's (BnF) digital project, "Gallica focuses primarily on works about France, in the French language, and published in France" providing access to "the first complete collections of authors (in literature, philosophy, and other fields)" reflecting the "vital scholarly movement in France, especially in the field of history."
Sabin Americana, 1500-1926 (Gale)
The Literary Research Guide
is a selective, annotated guide to reference sources essential to the study of British literature, literatures of the United States, other literatures in English, and related topics. The scope and organization of the content are described in the introduction. To begin working, use one of the tabs above.
Based on Joseph Sabin's landmark bibliography, this collection contains works about the Americas published throughout the world from 1500 to the early 1900's. Included are books, pamphlets, serials and other documents that provide original accounts of exploration, trade, colonialism, slavery and abolition, the western movement, Native Americans, military actions and much more. With over 6 million pages from 29,000 works, this collection is a cornerstone in the study of the western hemisphere.
Librarian for English Literature and Theatre
Falvey Library, Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue
Sarah Wingo is available for research consultations, instruction, curricular support & purchase requests.
Click on the button below to schedule a research appointment.