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Primary Resources for Art History Research

Primary resources provide evidence to support key claims and arguments in research. This guide defines primary resources, provides evaluation criteria, and offers strategies for finding primary resources in large library catalogs and digital collections.

About Primary Resources

Primary sources provide first-hand evidence to support research claims or arguments. Created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented, primary resources provide insider knowledge to inform a topic under study. Primary sources include those documents created contemporaneously with events or conditions as they occur, as well as autobiographies, memoirs, artist statements, interviews, and oral histories recorded later.Original creative works (art, photography, film, music, literature) and original artifacts are primary sources. Primary sources are characterized by their content, regardless of whether they are available in original format, published or unpublished format, in microform, or in digital format. 1

1. Definition based on Primary Sources at Yale 

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