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History Subject Guide

Resources for historical research.

Primary Sources

What is a primary source?

It's an original document which reflects first hand experience. These can be letters, newspaper articles, diaries, government documents, photographs, statistics and much more!

Finding Primary Sources


  • Add 'sources' to your keyword search in OhioLINK. The subject term for many primary documents uses the word 'sources'. You can also try words like 'letters', 'correspondance, ' 'personal narratives', 'diaries', 'papers', 'journals' or 'oral history'.


  • Many museums, libraries, universities and other organizations are digitizing primary sources for scholarly use. Try a google search using 'primary sources' as one of your keywords, or other words such as letters, etc.
  • For best results, limit your search to sites hosted by educational institutions (.edu) or the government (.gov). Do this by using Google's advanced search, or just add '' or '' to your search.
  • Be careful with online sources - check their 'about us' page to see who they are. Look for citations of the original source.

Primary Source Portals

We certainly can't list every provider of primary sources here. Check out these other collections of links to find primary sources for your project!