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Primary Resources : A Guide to Digitized and Print Collections: What are Primary Resources?

An introduction to primary resources at Colby and a listing of electronic packages of historical digitized content available to current Colby faculty, staff, and students.

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."

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.  Colby's Special Collections provides a wealth of materials relating specifically to the College and other literary and historical collecitons.

  • 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

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