Skip to Main Content

How do I find primary sources?

Brief overview of finding primary sources at the University of Chicago

Finding Background Information

Gather the information you have about your topic and consider what you still need to know before you start researching.  You can use this information in searching for primary sources.

  • Dates
  • Places
  • Names of persons involved
  • Names of organizations, government agencies, societies, etc.

Reference works and secondary sources can help you find background information on your topic. Learn about how to find reference sources in the library's How do I find Reference Sources? guide or by asking a librarian.

What Primary Sources?

Think about what types of primary sources might have been produced that would be relevant to your topic; think also about which persons or organizations might have produced materials. Some possible types of sources:

  • Books
  • Photographs and images
  • Magazine and newspaper articles
  • Cartoons and advertisements
  • Diaries and journals
  • Movies, videos, DVDs
  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • Audio recordings
  • Interviews
  • Public opinion polls
  • Letters
  • Fiction
  • Speeches
  • Research data and statistics
  • Documents produced by organizations
  • Documents produced by government agencies

Ask a Librarian

The Library is on YouTube!

Hone your research skills by watching short tutorials developed by librarians.