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AR 259: American Art Since 1900: What are Primary Resources?

"What is contemporary American Art?" The assignment explores the major themes covered throughout the semester through in depth analysis of an art work from the Colby College Museum.

About Primary Resources

A primary source is a document or artifact written or created during a particular time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by those experienced the events or conditions being documented. Primary sources include original documents, creative works, relics and artifacts; they can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later.

Primary Resources from the Colby College Libraries

Locate obvious primary sources in the Colby Catalog by using an artist/author name and a term such as: sources, letters, autobiographies, diaries, or another term from the list below. The library also subscribes to many online primary resource collections: textual, media, visual, and music. The Skowhegan Lecture Archive, here at the Bixler Library, documents contemporary artists' lectures at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture from the late 1950s to the present. 

  • art works, illustrations, prints
  • maps
  • letters
  • interviews
  • diaries
  • speeches
  • photographs
  • autobiographies
  • manuscripts
  • facsimiles
  • scrapbooks
  • newspapers or articles of the time period being researched
  • ephemera (e.g. posters, broadsides, advertisements)
  • original works for performance (film, drama or musical theater/opera playscript or libretto, dance, theater /stage designs)
  • original works of music (music score, sound recording)
  • original works of literature (poetry, drama, fiction, etc.)
  • government documents
  • oral histories / transcripts
  • travelogues


Important Websites On Contemporary Artists

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