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Oftedal - US History I: Home

Primary Source: Close Reading

Primary Sources- a Close Reading

Primary Source

A primary source is an original object or document - the raw material or

first-hand information, source material  that is closest to what is being studied. 

Primary sources vary by discipline and can include:

  • -historical and legal documents,
    •    - eye witness accounts,
  • -results of an experiment*,
  • -statistical data,
  • -creative writing,
  • -art objects.

American History Databases

Issues and Current Events Databases

Miscellaneous Databases

World History Databases

Database Searching Tips

  •     It is crucial to CHOOSE the right database for your task.
  •     COMBINE keywords and/or subject terms using Boolean logic for fewer, more relevant results.
  •     USE a database's sorting features for better results.
  •     Databases may cover specific topics and/or time periods – PAY ATTENTION!


  •     Use the HELP screens to learn the characteristics of a specific database and improve your searching skills.
  •     Don’t forget to CITE your sources!  Most databases will have a citation tools” feature – use it!

Databases A-Z

A-Z Database List

Full list of Databases the library subscribes to, including trial access.
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Books and eBooks


Annotated Bibliographies

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY An annotated bibliography is a listing of the resources consulted for research purposes. An annotated bibliography is listed in alphabetical order according to author and contains the following information in this order.

i. Citation in MLA format

ii. Summary of the sources’ content (See sample below.)

Castelvecchi, D. (2008, August 30). “Carbon Tubes leave nano behind.” Science News, 174(5), Retrieved from

 This source, which describes a new, flexible lightweight material 30 times stronger than Keviar and possibly useful for better bulletproof vests, provides evidence of yet another upcoming technology that might be useful to law enforcement. This article focuses on the ways in which lighter, stronger, bulletproof materials might change SWAT tactics, for instance, enabling them to carry more gear, protect police vehicles, or to blend into crowds better. 

Primary v. Secondary Sources

Primary sources are materials that contain firsthand evidence of events, usually recorded by someone who participated in, witnessed, or lived through the event.

The following are commonly considered primary sources:

  • Diaries, letters, personal papers, autobiographies
  • Photographs or original video tapes or television advertisements
  • Interviews and transcripts
  • Newspaper accounts
  • Government records
  • Historical records
  • Statutes, regulations, by-laws, case law and administrative rulings
  • Statistical data
  • Artistic or creative works (poems, paintings, sculpture, etc.)

Secondary sources are works that are not original primary sources, but documents which offer an analysis, interpretation, or evaluation of information gathered from primary sources. For example, books critiquing Shakespeare's plays or a product review are secondary sources.

The following are commonly considered secondary sources:

  • Biographies
  • Criticisms
  • Dissertations
  • Editorials and reviews
  • Journal/Magazine articles providing analysis, interpretation, or evaluation
  • Newspaper accounts that report various sources of information

What is a Primary Source?

Newspaper Databases

Multi-Cultural Databases

War & Genocide Databases

Research Tools

Schmoop- How to Write a Killer Thesis Statement

Media Specialist

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Scott Keele
108 Stirling Road
Warren, NJ 07059
908-647-4800 x 2975