Skip to Main Content
The Library is open for students, staff, and faculty of The Claremont Colleges. Masks are required and eating is not permitted. See COVID-19 Services and Updates for more information.

POM ID1 - Building the Future -- Professor Jensen - FA 21

What are primary sources? And why care about the differences among kinds of sources?

Although you do not need additional primary sources for you assignment, there will be other assignments for other classes in which you will be asked to find primary, secondary (which usually means scholarly) or both kinds of sources ( I use the word "additional" above because you are already using a primary source -- the literary text that will be the focus of your paper).

A primary source is an original document or publication relating to a particular subject, experiment, time period, or event. Autobiographies, journals, and diaries are considered primary sources. Original manuscripts and contemporary records, such as newspaper articles and firsthand accounts from the period, are primary sources. Creative works - music, art, literature - are also primary sources. Primary sources provide the raw information or data which scholars use in their research. 

Instead of primary and secondary, sometimes it might be more helpful to think in terms of evidence and argument.

Below are just some examples of the primary source databases to which we have access.  Primary sources can also be found in Special Collections and the Claremont Digital Library.  

Primary Source Databases for Literature

Primary Sources in Library Catalogs

Primary sources of all types can also be found in our regular, circulating books, in special collections, and beyond.  Here are few ways to find primary texts and sources by using our own Library Search.
1. Use the author search  to find books we have by a particular author, politician, journalist or another type of historical witness
2.  Do an advanced keyword search in The Library Search and then limit by publication year under “limit your search”) (note:  you can also limit by language and many other ways)
3. . Do an advanced keyword in Library Search and then limit to the word  "sources" in the subject field (by using the dropdown menu), for example:


"France and Revolution" in the keyword field

"sources" in the subject field. 
(this brings us the Library of Congress Subject subheading “sources” which is sometimes used to designate primary source collections of different kinds — as in
France History Revolution, 1789-1799--Social aspects--Sources.
A  rich source of primary materials is The Claremont Colleges Library Special Collections  and its librarians.