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Black Studies: African American and Pan African Diaspora

What Is a Primary Source?

Primary sources are "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 art, literature, and cultural studies, primary sources include original creative works, such as paintings, architectural plans, music, poems, novels, movies, television shows, and even advertisements.

In historical studies, primary sources include written works, recordings, or other sources of information from people who were participants or direct witnesses to the events in question. Examples of commonly used historical primary sources include government documents, memoirs, personal correspondence, oral histories, and contemporary newspaper accounts.

In the sciences, primary sources are usually articles or data resulting directly from experiments, fieldwork, or clinical trials.

Note that the "primacy" of a source can be relative. In cases where original records were lost or a live performance was never recorded, a review or commentary from a third party may be the most primary source available.

Enjoy this video introduction to UCLA Library Special Collections!

African American Studies - Print Primary Resources

Search in the UCLA Library Catalog scope for african americans sources as a Subject search to find items with this subject heading leading to primary source materials. Most will be printed items, but there may be some links to online resources.

To find oral history transcripts in the library, search in the UCLA Library Catalog for "african american" as a Subject and "oral histories" as a Subject. There are more than 100 items listed. Another search that yields over 700 results is "african american" as a Subject and "interviews" as a Subject.

Online Collections: eBooks, audio, manuscripts, etc.

Below are some collections covering a wide range of material relating to African or African American Studies.

Enslavement - Online Primary Sources

Primary source material can be found in many places. Below are links to some major online sites that provide access to primary source material.

Center for Research Libraries

Researchers at UCLA have access to the extensive primary source collections of the Center for Research Libraries, an international consortium of university, college and independent research libraries. CRL acquires and preserves newspapers, journals, documents, archives, and other resources for research and teaching.  Material found on CRL Topic Guides can be requested on interlibrary loan or digitized on demand. Relevant Topic Guides are on African Studies or Black Studies.

Microform Resources

 Microform is still a major tool for preservation of archival materials. Once a collection of material is created, the vendor will create a guide to the contents. Much of the microform in the UCLA Library is stored in the Southern Regional Library Facility (SRLF) and can be paged for use in the Research Library. The UCLA Library may have guides to collections that are owned by another library--in this case, the needed reels can be requested on Interlibrary Loan.

  • Black Studies Research Sources from University Publications of America

UCLA has purchased some of these titles. Using the UCLA Library Catalog scope, search for Author/Creator contains "university Publications of America" AND Any field contains black or Africa*  to see a list of the collections we have.