Primary sources (original objects or documents) provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence of an event or time period. 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 the following:
oral histories, films, artifacts
records of organizations and government agencies
and much more (partial text taken from yale.edu/collectionscollaborative/primarysources)
Where to Find Primary Sources
Primary sources can be found in libraries, archives, museums, agencies, and many other institutions. They can also be found in many databases and websites. Click the "Library Databases" tab above to search for primary sources.
Today, there are many websites that provide primary sources. Click the "Websites"tab above for specific sites sources about John F. Kennedy. Below are some general sites that include primary materials not only about JFK but also other individuals and historic events:
This section of the History Matters website "...helps students and teachers make effective use of primary sources. 'Making Sense of Documents' provide strategies for analyzing online primary materials, with interactive exercises and a guide to traditional and online sources. 'Scholars in Action' segments show how scholars puzzle out the meaning of different kinds of primary sources, allowing you to try to make sense of a document yourself then providing audio clips in which leading scholars interpret the document and discuss strategies for overall analysis." (site)
The Internet Archive is a non-profit site that strives to provide an internet archive and library with the purpose of offering access for users to historical collections in digital format. Using the "Wayback Machine, users can type in a website's URL and see it in multiple forms depending on the date.
As a site which contains "collections of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts," this is great for finding primary historical sources. The three primary historical sourcebooks cover Ancient, Medieval, and Modern History Additional historical sourcebooks are organized by theme. In addition to full-text historical documents, one can find links to secondary articles, reviews, discussions, and more Web sites. Searchable.
From the Library of Congress and other institutions, A gateway to primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. Primary sources include images, moving images, sound recordings, music, and text. There are more than 9 million items to be found in 100 collections. Browsable and searchable.
"A project of the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning of the City University of New York and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, this site serves as a gateway to web resources and offers unique teaching materials, first-person primary documents, and guides to analyzing historical evidence." (site)
The National Archives of the United States reflect and record more than 200 years of American development. The documents and images are great in number, diverse in character, and rich in information.There are links to presidential libraries, genealogy information, the Federal Register, the National Archives Exhibit Hall, and a digital classroom for educators who wish to use documents in teaching. Browse online exhibits; searchable.
The National Security Archive is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, hosted by Georgetown University, devoted to providing access to declassified government records. Many of these documents have been made able through the Freedom of Information Act. Documents are organized by subject area and may also be searched.
Primary and Secondary Sources
The following is a video from UC San Diego Library explaining primary sources through the use of some JFK resources. http://sshl.ucsd.edu
Below is a video from The Community College of Vermont Hartness Library defining and comparing Primary Vs. Secondary sources. http://hartness.vsc.edu/ccvhome