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AR 121a Writing About Art: Library Research Class: What are primary sources and how can I locate them

A guide to assist you with research on a work in the Lunder Collection of the Colby College Museum of Art

Primary Sources from the Colby College Libraries

Locate primary sources in the Colby Catalog by using the artist's name and a term such as: sources, letters, autobiographies, diaries, etc. Locate the most obvious primary sources by simply doing an author search using the artist's name (last, first), and looking for sources listed below. The library also subscribes to many primary source collections: textual, media, visual, and music. 

  • art works, illustrations, prints
  • letters
  • interviews
  • diaries
  • photographs
  • autobiographies
  • exhibition reviews of the time period
  • newspapers or articles of the time period
  • manuscripts
  • facsimiles
  • ephemera (e.g. posters, broadsides, advertisements)
  • original works of literature (poetry, drama, fiction, etc.)
  • government documents
  • oral histories / transcripts
  • travelogues


About Primary Resources

From Primary Sources at Yale:

"Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later. Primary sources are characterized by their content, regardless of whether they are available in original format, in microfilm/microfiche, in digital format, or in published format."

Your Librarian

Margaret Ericson's picture
Margaret Ericson
Bixler Art and Music Library, Rm 136
Bixler Art/Music Building
Spring 2018 office hours: Monday, 2-4 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.-noon.
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