Skip to main content
BGSU University Libraries

HIST 4800: Ohio in the Civil War: Primary Sources

Library and Internet resources that may be useful for students in HIST 4800 Ohio in the Civil War

Ask Us

For information about how to visit us, phone us, email us, or IM us, visit the Ask a Librarian page.

What Is a Primary Source?

Primary sources are the "materials on a topic upon which subsequent interpretations or studies are based, anything from firsthand documents such as poems, diaries, court records, and interviews to research results generated by experiments, surveys, ethnographies, and so on."*

Primary sources are records of events as they are first described, usually by witnesses or by people who were involved in the event. Many primary sources were created at the time of the event, but can also include memoirs, oral interviews, or accounts that were recorded later.  Visual materials, such as photos, original artwork, posters, and films are important primary sources, not only for the factual information they contain, but also for the insight they may provide into how people view their world.  Primary sources may also include sets of data, such as census statistics, which have been tabulated, but not interpreted.  

*From Hairston, Maxine and John J. Ruszkiewicz. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers. 4th ed. New York : HarperCollins College Publishers, 1996, pg. 547.

Examples of Primary Sources

  • Diaries
  • Oral Interviews
  • Letters
  • Speeches
  • Clothing
  • Photographs
  • Audio files
  • Video files
  • Eyewitness accounts
  • Manuscript census records
  • Artifacts 

Author of this LibGuide

Carol Singer's picture
Carol Singer
Contact:
Library Teaching & Learning Department
Rm. 152 Jerome Library
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH 43403
singerc@bgsu.edu
419-372-9412