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Primary Sources: Getting Started With Primary Sources

NCC Libraries guide to finding Primary Source materials.

A quick introduction!

Welcome to the NCC Libraries guide to primary source materials.

Here you will find resources and strategies for finding and using primary source materials for your research papers and projects.  Please feel to contact the library at any time with questions! And remember to check our your course research guides for even more specific primary source information.

What are Primary Sources?

Good Question!

Primary sources typically provide direct, firsthand evidence or commentary about any/all of the following:

  • Historical event
  • Person
  • Object
  • Artwork
  • Performance
  • Original Research Study
  • Scientific Experiment

What are some examples of primary sources?

Glad you asked!

Primary sources can include any/all of the following:

  • Eyewitness accounts
  • Newspaper/magazine/other journalism that quotes eyewitnesses
  • Journalism from the time of a historical event
  • Interviews
  • speeches
  • journals, letters, diaries
  • oral histories
  • government documents
  • autobiographies
  • memoirs
  • artifacts (costumes, clothing, furniture)

What about audiovisual sources?

Yes! Primary sources can definitely be in audiovisual format:

  • Television broadcast news 
  • Feature films
  • Documentaries
  • Radio broadcasts
  • Recorded music
  • Recorded live music peformance
  • Recorded theater performance
  • Recorded dance or other artistic performances
  • Photographs
  • TV or radio interviews


Electronic sources and social media?

Of course!

  • News websites 
  • Email and other electronic personal communication
  • Podcasts
  • Blog posts
  • YouTube/streaming videos
  • Facebook posts
  • Twitter feeds
  • Instagram posts
  • Reddit 
  • Digital images
  • Electronic archives
  • Digital library collections
  • Digital government document repositories (ex. National Archives)

Library Hours

Contact the NCC Libraries -- we're online Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.


Don't need to chat in real-time or the chat is offline?

  • Phone: 610-861-5359

You can also request a Virtual Book a Librarian appointment to chat on a day and time convenient to your schedule.

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