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History 430: Seminar in U.S. History (Quinney)

Sources and methods in researching the history of US foreign policy and affairs..

Types of Primary Sources

These are some possible categories/formats of materials you might find. Of course, technologies available at the time of the event will determine some categories: Film newsreels are not going to be found if you are searching the Dark Ages! 


  • Newspapers
  • Memoir
  • Diary or diaries
  • Letters (note the term 'Correspondence' is the LoC subject heading subdivision) 
  • Maps
  • Personal narrative (this is a LoC subject heading subdivision)
  • Journal (not the scholarly publication, but more like a diary) 
  • Government reports and publications
  • Oral history transcriptions

Image or sound file

  • Photographs/slides/prints
  • Photographs or drawings (a high-resolution photograph should be acceptable.) 
  • Newsreels 
  • Television shows
  • Newscasts
  • Music recordings and videos
  • Oral history recordings

Realia (objects) 

  • Artwork
  • Buildings
  • Toys and games 
  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • Souvenirs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Ephemera (items created for short-term or one-time use such as flyers, brochures, ticket stubs)