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History of Physics

Introduction to resources for the history of physics from ancient times to twentieth century

What are Primary Resources?

A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study.  They are often unpublished works.  Some types of primary sources in the history of physics include:

  • ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, laboratory notebooks, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records 
  • CREATIVE WORKS: Portraits, photographs 
  • RELICS OR ARTIFACTS: Instruments, scientific apparatus

Primary sources are distinguished from secondary sources, which cite, comment on, or build upon primary sources.

How to find primary resources

Some primary materials have been digitized by libraries, museums, and other organizations to make them more accessible.  Digital collections of primary materials may be found by using a web search engine.  Some examples of sites containing such collections are: