This guide is a starting point for finding primary source documents in the Humanities. It is arranged by geographic region.
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.
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.
- 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
- For APA style, see the APA citation guide and look for the resource type you are citing.
- For Chicago style, see the Citing primary sources: Chicago/Turabian citation guide and look for the resource type you are citing.
- For MLA style, see the MLA citation guide and look for the resource type you are citing.