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HUM 3800 - Research Methods in Humanities (Ravela)

primary sources for advertising, Fall 2023 semester

About Primary Sources

Generally speaking, primary sources are original materials created at the time an event occurs and are directly associated with their producer (or user). They serve as the raw materials researchers use to analyze and interpret the past.

Note that primary sources for the historian or humanities scholar studying World War II are different from those for a research scientist investigating a new drug for arthritis. The humanities scholar's primary sources are the diaries, government documents, interviews, letters, or and/or speeches of the era. The research scientist's primary sources are the results of laboratory tests or clinical trial medical records of patients treated with the drug.

Examples of primary sources in the humanities can include, but are not limited to:

  • art works
  • autobiographies
  • clothing
  • data sets
  • diaries
  • government documents
  • interviews
  • legal documents
  • letters
  • manuscripts (e.g., literary manuscripts, music manuscripts)
  • newspaper articles (published at the time of the event)
  • photographs
  • speeches

Primary sources may be available in many different formats:

  • original manuscripts, records, and printed texts in library, museum, and government archives
  • reprinted and compiled as collections in books (monographs)
  • reproduced on microfilm or microfiche
  • digitally reproduced in library-subscribed databases or open websites

You may need to explore several different mediums and locations to discover relevant primary sources for your research.

Primary Sources in the UCF Libraries

The collections of the UCF Libraries include government documents, letters, diaries, photographs, and autobiographies collected in books (monographs). When performing a search in Primo, the UCF Libraries Catalog, select on the drop-down menu labeled “ - Pick Search Scope -” the option "Library Catalog," and include terms that describe primary sources such as:

  • archives
  • correspondence
  • description and travel
  • diaries
  • documentary films
  • exhibitions
  • interviews
  • manuscripts
  • maps
  • notebooks
  • personal narratives
  • pictorial works
  • portraits
  • public opinion
  • sources
  • speeches