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Finding Primary Sources

Assistance with locating primary source material within and outside the WSU Libraries.

COVID-19 Updates

Please note: while we try to keep our guides as up-to-date as possible, the most current information on WSU Pullman Library operations and Services can be found at the links below:

What Are Primary Sources? What are Secondary Sources?

Primary sources are the first-hand accounts of an event or period of time created by participants or observers.  Primary sources can be published, or unpublished and may be available in a variety of formats, such as texts (letters, diaries, government reports, newspaper accounts, autobiographies), images (photographs, paintings, advertisements, posters), artifacts (buildings, clothing, sculpture, coins) and audio/visual (songs, oral history interviews, documentaries).

Secondary sources interpret or summarize an event or time period.  They provide analysis of a topic by those who have studied and written about it.  Examples of secondary sources are scholarly articles and books.

Tertiary sources include reference resources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks.  These can provide background information on a subject and may also list bibliographies for further reading.

The tabs to the right link to pages with information on how to find specific types of primary sources. 

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us