Primary Sources for the Humanities: Home
This guide is a starting point for finding primary source documents in the Humanities. It is arranged by geographic region, and lists selected electronic information sources available to SFU faculty, students, and staff.
General resources, as well as tips on how to search for primary sources in the SFU Library catalogue, can be found on the General tab.
This guide focuses on primary sources in the Humanities. Primary sources in the Social Sciences and Sciences are defined differently. For more information on this topic, see the Types of Information Sources guide developed by James Cook University.
Definition of a Primary Source:
A primary source is a document or other sort of evidence written or created during the time under study, or by one of the persons or organizations directly involved in the event. Primary sources offer an inside view of a particular event.
Types of Primary Sources:
- Original Documents (excerpts or translations are acceptable): diaries, speeches, letters, minutes, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records.
- Creative Works: poetry, drama, novels, music, art, films.
- Relics or Artifacts: jewelry, pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings, tools.
Examples of Primary Sources:
- Diary of Samuel Pepys - Social life and customs in England at the end of the 17th century.
- British North America Act, 1867 (30 & 31 Victoria, c. 3) - Canadian history.
- The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer - late medieval English culture.