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BGSU University Libraries

Hands-on History: Primary Sources in University Libraries' Special Collections: What is a Primary Source?

What exactly are primary sources?

For a brief description of primary sources, try the Primary vs. Secondary Sources page in the Library Basics libguide.

Databases of Primary Sources

BGSU has access to many research databases of primary source materials.  Try these groups of databases!

Primary Sources @ BGSU

An abundance of primary source materials are available here at BGSU - on nearly every floor, in fact.  Examples of primary source materials are listed below (follow links for details). 

Since "primary source" can have different meanings for different disciplines and fields of study, any number of materials in the UL could be considered primary sources.  Here are some examples listed by library/collection/floor:

Main floor

  • periodicals
  • fiction/poetry/plays
  • videos
  • government documents - congressional hearings, reports/publications from government agencies, etc.

Curriculum Resource Center (CRC) - 2nd floor

  • children's literature
  • textbooks
  • teaching aids and kits
  • puppets

Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives (ML/BSSA) - 3rd floor

  • all kinds of sound recordings - classical, popular, spoken word
  • album covers or CD covers
  • lyrics/librettos
  • scores
  • sheet music
  • realia (music memorabilia)
  • posters
  • periodicals
  • fanzines
  • additional collections

Browne Popular Culture Library (BPCL) - 4th floor

  • popular fiction - novels, pulp magazines, nickel weeklies, story papers, vintage paperbacks, series romances, young adult fiction (i.e. Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys)
    • 4 main genres collected - romance, mystery/detective, science fiction/fantasy, western/adventure
  • comic books & graphic novels
  • DVDs - these can be checked out
  • movie posters, scripts, press kits, memorabilia
  • radio and TV scripts
  • TV press kits
  • fanzines
  • photographs
  • additional special collections and manuscript collections

Center for Archival Collections (CAC) - fifth floor

What is a manuscript collection?

At BGSU, manuscript collections can be collections of an author's work with correspondence, manuscripts, and/or proofs in the collection (see the Browne Popular Culture Library's manuscript collections).  They can also document a particular group's activities, a family's history, or other topics/subjects (see the Center for Archival Collections manuscript collections).