Primary source collection and analysis

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The first step in any research project, once you’ve defined your topic and question, is to identify and locate primary sources. Primary sources are the evidence, the data, you need to make your argument; they are what will drive your narrative. So making sure you can identify, locate, and access primary sources is critical – and you need to figure this out early on. If you have to reframe or rethink your topic/question because you can’t find the types of primary sources you need, you want to find out sooner rather than later. For the purposes of this class, “sooner” is now.

This assignment asks you to compile an inventory, a list, of primary source collections and sources that you plan to use. Please keep in mind that a satisfactory chapter must include a minimum of 20 primary sources coming from a minimum of 3 distinct primary source collections. Excellent chapters will include many more.

Try your best to make sure you identify distinct and different types of collections that, taken together, will give you a range of different types of sources to work from.

Manuscript collections (online or in Special Collections)

Oral History collections (print collections, databases, etc.)

Historical newspapers

Historical magazines

Published sources (document collections, memoirs, books on your topic written at the time being studied)

Film and Video footage

Visual images (photographs, art, posters)


Any other databases, websites, or online archives

Use the attached worksheetPreview the document as a template or guide. Make sure to start with your name, research topic, research question, and keywords and search terms used. Then list and briefly describe each of the distinct primary source collections (at least 3, but can be more) you’ve identified. For each collection, please list the specific primary sources you’ve located (remember, you have to have a minimum of 20 total sources), and then discuss how you think these sources will help you answer your research question.

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