About primary sources
Primary sources can be either published or unpublished, and can be found in many formats, such as manuscripts, books, microfilm, photographs, video and sound recordings. Some primary sources are available in more than one format -- for example, a collection of manuscript letters may also have been published in book form, or may have been digitized and made available on the Internet. Begin by asking two basic questions:
What evidence was created?
For the most part, the evidence used by historians to answer historical questions was not created for that purpose. The evidence of the past -- official records, personal papers, video recordings, physical remains -- was created to serve the purposes of people with very different agendas. Nonetheless, it is very useful to think about some broad categories of evidence, in part because understanding these categories can help you find the material you need.
It is particularly useful to consider whether the material you need would have been published (newspapers, books) or would have had a more limited circulation (intra-office memos, personal correspondence, a private photo album.)
What evidence was saved, and where?
Think about who might have collected the material you're hoping to find:
Finally, keep in mind that the material you need may be scattered among several libraries and archives.
[ Content in this section is based on history libguides created by Elizabeth Z. Bennett, Princeton University ]
There are many options for locating primary source materials at MSU Libraries:
The Mississippi State University Libraries and the Digital Preservation and Access Unit (DPAU) have initiated a number of digital projects to preserve unique collections and make them more readily accessible. Several of these digital collections were grant funded. Development continues on these and several other digital collections.