Foothill College Library
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For off-campus access to the online databases, journals and e-Books, you'll need your student ID.
The purpose of this guide is to help you identify, locate and use primary resources in your research.
Start your search for primary sources at Foothill Library's website. From here you can locate different types of primary resources by searching the Library Catalog and the online databases available through the website.
Expand your search for primary sources by exploring local, regional and online library and archival collections.
Click on the tabs at the top of the page to:
• Find definitions for primary, secondary and tertiary resources
• Find out how to locate primary sources in books and online databases available at Foothill Library
• Find information on local and regional archival collections, and primary sources available digitally on the web
If you need help, visit the Reference Desk at Foothill Library. Reference librarians will be there to help you!
Definition of Primary Sources
A Description of Primary Sources Using the Five "W's":
A primary source is testimony of direct evidence in the form of documents (diaries, interviews, letters, official records), creative works (novels, music, poetry, art), and artifacts (tools, pottery, furniture).
Primary sources are created, sometimes unwittingly, by observers, witnesses or recorders. They are recorded FIRST HAND, and in FIRST PERSON. A handed-down story or a compilation or interpretation is not a primary source.
Ideally, primary sources are created at or near the time of the event or situation. Primary sources can also be created at a later date, and may be found as autobiographies, memoirs or oral histories.
"Primary source" refers to the content not to the format. These sources can be found in their original format or in a reproduced format, including paper and electronic formats.
Primary sources can be created for any number of reasons, and when evaluating a primary document, it is important to consider any motives the person documenting the event my have for creating the source.