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Use this guide to find books, articles, databases, and other resources for research in history.

What is a primary source?


  • Primary sources are original materials that provide direct evidence or first-hand testimony concerning a topic or event -- firsthand records created by people who actually participated in or remembered an event and reported on the event and their reactions to it.
  • Primary sources can be contemporary sources created at the time when the event occurred (e.g., letters and newspaper articles) or later (such as, memoirs and oral history interviews).
  • Primary sources may be published or unpublished. Unpublished sources include unique materials (e.g., family papers) often referred to as archives and manuscripts.
  • What constitutes a primary source varies by discipline. How the researcher uses the source generally determines whether it is a primary source or not.

*This material is used with permission from the University of Pittsburgh Library's research guide on Primary Sources

General Databases

Government Documents

Historical Newspapers

Archives and Special Collections at Oxford College Library


The Archives and Special Collections at Oxford College Library are available to all students. In addition to collections described in the EmoryFindingAids database, the Oxford College archives contain primary sources and unpublished material suitable for many forms of research. In-person access to the collections is typically by appointment only, and research help is always available prior to placing a request or making an appointment. 

Collections include:

  • Records relating to Oxford College and early Emory College history
  • Local history, including Oxford, GA and Newton County
  • Manuscripts, especially correspondence and personal papers of notable Oxford families, college alumni, and faculty
  • Artifacts and memorabilia from the Oxford campus

Emory Digital Archives


The Emory Libraries have an online repository for digitized archives and special collections material. The collections are available to the public on the Emory Digital Collections site.