A primary source is an artifact/object that has not been modified by any interpretation and offers the researcher a chance to form their own original thought and use new information in their research. Primary sources are original materials, regardless of format.
Letters, diaries, minutes, photographs, artifacts, interviews, and sound or video recordings are examples of primary sources created as a time or event is occurring. Oral histories, newspaper or journal articles, and memoirs or autobiographies are examples of primary sources created after the event or time in question but offering first-hand accounts.
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 the format available. (Handwritten notes could be published; the published book might be digitized or put on microfilm, but those notes are still primary sources in any format).
Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) promotes the use of Colby’s rare books, literary manuscripts, and college archives. To get access to any of the materials listed on the page please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Materials are not for general circulation.
NOTE: Due to COVID protocols, access to Special Collections & Archives is limited to current students, faculty, and staff by appointment only. To make an appointment contact us at email@example.com or 207-859-5150.
Special Collections & Archives also has many contemporary ‘zines on mental health, disability, and illness, primarily created by women & POC, that may also be of interest.