A primary source is a first hand account of an event and/or an object or document created by a person or in a place being researched.
Primary sources are contextual. So, for instance, a newspaper article may be primary source for one topic (an first hand account from the time being studied) OR if could be a secondary source (discussion of an event that occurred in the past). There is nothing inherent in a document that makes it a primary or secondary source. The content, not the format/container, determines if a item is a primary source for your topic.
This guide lists a variety of primary source types that can be found online, at the Blume Library, and in the San Antonio - Austin area.
Discover, the Library Catalog, and many other research databases use subject terms to help identify the primary topics of a book, article, or other source. Subject searching will help you reduce the number of irrelevant sources in your results, particularly if you have a high number of results with your keyword search.
Works on U.S. foreign policy often have the subject term: United States Foreign Relations. You can add other keywords to this search or add specific subjects like the name of a country, war (Vietnam War, World War, Cold War), a century (18th century, 19th century, 20th century), etc.
To find primary sources on you topic, try searching you topic (ex: Cold War, Vietnam, September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001) in combination with one of the following words:
|Search Term||When To Use It|
|sources||generic term, often produces the most results|
|archive||use with organizations, individuals and families|
|archival resources||use with topics and geographic areas (counties, cities, etc.)|
|correspondence||use with individuals, familes, classes of people, ethnic groups|
|diaries||use with individuals and families|
|manuscripts||use with individuals|
|notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.||use with individuals|
|personal narratives||use with names of events|
|personnel records||use with organizations and military units|
|records and correspondence||
use with organizations and groups
|speeches, addresses, etc||
use with individuals or groups
A search in Discover, the Library Catalog, or WorldCat or the Library Catalog on the terms "Vietnam and sources" finds books that includes primary source material from the Vietnam War er
Be sure to check the Government Sources tab for a primary materials produced by United States Congress, agencies, and offices.