Michigan State University

Electronic Resources: Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Primary Sources are recorded or written down at the time of the event, while secondary sources are recorded later. Examples include diaries and letters (primary) as opposed to memoirs and autobiographies (secondary); or newspaper accounts (primary) as opposed to formal histories (secondary). This category provides access to "Primary Source" materials relevant to historical scholarship, including manuscripts, letters, diaries, newspapers, photographs, artifacts, literature, and maps. Also included are some categories of government information. Primary sources in the sciences are not addressed here. 

For more information about using primary sources, see our Special Online Exhibit

Browse Primary Sources by Subject, Title, or Vendor.

Commonly Used Primary Sources