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Home > Help > Primary Source Research Guide > Getting Started

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Primary Source Research Guide
- Introduction
> Getting Started
- Primary and Secondary Sources
- Primary Source Samples
- About Archives
- Finding Aids
- Anatomy of a Finding Aid
Finding Primary Sources
- Resources
- Digital Collections
- Collections on Microfilm
Visiting Repositories
- Preparing for Your Visit
- What To Expect
- Links and Contact Information
Use and Reproduction
- Copyright
- Citing Sources

Getting Started

Some things to remember when doing primary source research:

  • Start with secondary source readings and focus your topic.
  • Make sure there are primary sources available on your topic.
  • Primary source research is more time consuming than doing standard research using published (secondary) sources. You need to plan well and allow plenty of time.
  • Don't expect to find everything online! Plan to visit a repository to browse finding aids and talk to the archivist (see Visiting Repositories for more details on planning your visit).


    Scrapbook of clippings relating to a performance of La Tosca, starring Sarah Bernhardt, undated. From the Margaret Blaisdell Byrd New York City Music, Opera and Theater Scrapbooks. Amherst College Archives and Special Collections.

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Project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Last update: May 24, 2004