This is the "Primary Sources" page of the "HIST 351: Gilded Age & Progressive Era America" guide.
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HIST 351: Gilded Age & Progressive Era America  

This brief guide gives students assistance identifying and locating primary sources for their research in this class.
Last Updated: Mar 3, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
Primary Sources Print Page

What is a Primary Source?

Primary sources are recordings of events or impressions by a direct observer, close in time to the event or feeling.  They run the gamut from business or government records at one end of the spectrum to a painting, song or poem at the other end.  Examples include:

  • reporting of events as they take place, or soon after
  • autobiography, memoir and oral history
  • artwork, whether fine art, music, literature, dance, film or photographs
  • letters and correspondence
  • diaries, journals, and reflections
  • business records
  • government documents
  • primary scientific literature
  • data

What is a Secondary Source?

Secondary sources are recordings which observe, analyze, interpret or assign value to primary sources.  Examples include:

  • news commentary, analysis, and letters to the editor
  • biography and other second hand observations
  • reviews of art, books and films
  • encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • textbooks
  • a journal article that reviews the results of numerous scientific experiments or research studies
  • interpretation of data

Finding Primary Sources

In Hartwick's library catalog and WorldCat, it is easy to identify primary sources by searching for

      one or more keywords related to your topic AND one or more primary source identifiers used in the catalog

Primary source identifiers include:

  • sources
  • documents
  • speeches
  • correspondence
  • firsthand accounts
  • personal narratives
  • diaries
  • archives
  • biography (there is no autobiography subject heading, so use "biography" and check that the author is also the subject)
  • press coverage
  • interviews
  • manuscripts
  • pamphlets

Of course, you can also identify primary sources through the footnotes/bibliographies/works cited of your secondary sources.


Examples of Primary Source Collections at Hartwick

Cover Art
Chinese American Voices - Judy Yung (Editor); Gordon Chang (Editor); Him Mark Lai (Editor)
Call Number: Main Collection E184 .C5 C479 2006
ISBN: 0520243099
Publication Date: 2006-03-20

Cover Art
In Her Place - S. T. Joshi (Editor)
Call Number: Main Collection HQ1075 .I52 2006
ISBN: 1591023807
Publication Date: 2006-02-06

Cover Art
The Philosophy of Manufactures - Michael Brewster Folsom (Editor); Steven D. Lubar (Editor)
Call Number: Main Collection HC105 .P55 1982
ISBN: 0262060760
Publication Date: 1982-08-23

Cover Art
Their Lives and Numbers - Henry F. Bedford (Editor)
Call Number: Main Collection HD8083 .M4 F33 1995
ISBN: 0801482585
Publication Date: 1995-03-02

Cover Art
African Americans in the Industrial Age - Joe William Trotter (Editor); Earl Lewis (Editor)
Call Number: Main Collection E185.6 .A255 1996
ISBN: 1555532578
Publication Date: 1996-05-09

Cover Art
The Six Nations of New York - Robert W. Venables
Call Number: Oversize Collection E99 .I7 S55 1995
ISBN: 080143226X
Publication Date: 1996-01-18


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