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FINDING PRIMARY SOURCES

FINDING PRIMARY SOURCES

Introduction

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 Finding 

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Why is it so hard to find primary sources in the library?

The following questions about primary sources and their answers help explain why it can be challenging to find them.

        Where is the primary sources section in the library?
Primary sources are scattered throughout the library. Some can even be found online.  Depending on the context of your research, almost anything can be a primary source. This is why the library doesn't shelve them together.
        If they're not shelved together, they must be labeled?  Does SCOTTY (the library's catalog) identify it as a primary source?
There are some "primary source keywords" that will help you identify primary sources in SCOTTY, but generally speaking there is no primary source "label" in the catalog or attached to the sources.
          If I find a really old book, is that a primary source?
Publication date is not the best way to determine if the item can be a primary source for your topic. Sometimes original documents (like diaries or letters) get reprinted to preserve the original copy and so more people can have access to them.
     If I find a book in a foreign language, is it a primary source?  If I find a translation of that book, does it still count?
The content of a source determines whether or not it is a primary source.  Herodotus, a famous ancient Greek historian, wrote in an ancient Greek language.  Very few scholars can read his books in their original language.  In order for more people to have access to his work, it has been translated into English.  Since the information in the book was created during ancient Greek times, it is still considered a primary source.

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Last modified: 8/22/2012 11:57 AM by M. Potter

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