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*Primary Sources: A Guide

A guide to identifying and locating primary sources for conducting research in history.

When Scholarship becomes a Primary Source

When historians want to study the history of education, research, and knowledge itself, they often turn to the publications and notes of  researchers and use them as primary sources.

It can seem counterintuitive to use journal articles and textbooks as primary sources--we usually think about these as secondary sources. However, think, for example, about how a history textbook from the 1920s is evidence of professional thinking and teaching during this time period.

When analyzing scholarly works as primary sources, consider the following:

  • What were the accepted ideas and theories of the time?
  • How do the text and citations reveal professional relationships?
  • How was scholarship funded, and by whom?
  • How were scholarly ideas shared, and who had access to them?

Scientific Manuscripts & Rare Books @ FSU

Historical Journal Articles & Scientific Books

Personal Papers

To find the personal papers of a historical researcher, try searching Google Scholar for the researchers name with the additional keyword, "papers". Also use the OCLC FirstSearch (WorldCat) database to search by author to find published works by the researcher.

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