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Primary Sources

Online library support for primary source research

Using primary sources


Use the links on the following tabs to consider how you might use primary sources in your research.

Find out more about how to use and critically evaluate primary sources in your research using the Adam Matthew Digital Research Methods Primary Sources resource.

It includes:

Learning tools - essays and videos
  • Listen to academics talking about how they use primary resources in their work
  • Understanding and using archives; topics such as 'Why are some sources archived and others not?, ethical considerations and under-represented voices
  • Videos from experts in the field such as archivists, conservators and digitisation specialists
  • Learn about different types of archives: national and regional archives, military, business, film
  • Practical research guides: how to critically evaluate a source, find clues and weigh sources against each other; how to research individuals and marginal groups, how to collate data and organise your research
Case studies

Over 100 case studies focusing on:

  • source types: correspondence, diaries, photographs and many more different types
  • themes: disability, the environment, gender, popular culture, religion, war and more
  • data: case studies from scholars discussing how to find and analyse data from historical documents
Practice sources

Over 300 digitised items from 50 archives around the world, allowing you to practice using historical material.

  • Using Primary Sources by Jonathan Hogg and Laura Balderstone (published by Liverpool University Press and JISC)

An open access e-textbook designed to support students and teachers in the study of primary sources. Includes peer reviewed chapters by academics.

Guides to using archives from JISC:

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