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Crusade & Conquest: Primary Sources

Defining a Primary Source

"A primary source is a document, image or artifact ... created contemporaneously with the event under discussion." (Williams, Historian's Toolbox, 2nd ed., p. 56)

Primary sources are evidence from participants in or eyewitnesses to an event.

Examples:

  • Diaries, letters, speeches, memoirs/autobiographies, oral interviews, newspaper & magazine articles...
  • Images: photographs, sound & video recordings, maps...
  • Artifacts: coins, receipts, schedules, tombstones, furniture, jewelry, DNA evidence...
  • Public records: birth, death, probate, census records; court cases, official government documents...
  • Creative works:  paintings, movies, statues...

Formats:

  • Original manuscripts or records
  • Authoritative transcriptions in printed volumes or digital form
  • Reproductions--digital, microfilm, facsimile...

Primary Sources in Books

Primary Sources from the Internet

National archives, libraries, agencies & many other organizations publish primary source documents, images, sound & video files, etc.: