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.

If you need help, please contact Baharak Yousefi, Librarian for History, International Studies, Liberal Studies, & Political Science at 778.782.5033 (currently suspended due to university closure) or or Ask a librarian.

What is 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.

Citing primary sources