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United States History

Primary and secondary sources for the study of US History

Librarian

Marisa Méndez-Brady's picture
Marisa Méndez-Brady
Contact:
Charles E. Young Research Library | Research & Collections, A1540N
(310) 825-7557

What Is a Primary Source?

A primary source is "first-hand" information, sources as close as possible to the origin of the information or idea under study. Primary sources are contrasted with secondary sources, works that provide analysis, commentary, or criticism on the primary source. In literary studies, primary sources are often creative works, including poems, stories, novels, and so on. In historical studies, primary sources include written works, recordings, or other source of information from people who were participants or direct witnesses to the events in question. Examples of commonly used primary sources include government documents, memoirs, personal correspondence, oral histories, and contemporary newspaper accounts.

UCLA Special Collections

A wide variety of print special collections relevant to the study of US history reside at UCLA. Online finding aids are also available via the Online Archive of California.

UCLA Library Special Collections Blog

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General Catalogs and Finding Aids

If you are looking for primary sources that may not have been digitized yet, start here.

Style Manuals and Guides