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History: Find Primary Sources

Welcome to the library guide for history research at the University of Alabama.

Find Primary Sources

Primary sources may be published books, diaries, newspaper articles, or many other types of materials.  Please select from the following:

Primary Sources at UA

The Division of Special Collections at UA is an excellent place to begin your search for primary sources.

Special Collections has two locations as well as an online database:


What are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are original materials.  They are firsthand and often eyewitness accounts.  They were created by someone who lived during an event, and often experienced the event themselves. Primary sources can include diaries, memoirs, letters, newspaper and magazine articles, photographs, manuscripts, music, and videos--if they were created by someone who was involved in the event.

For example, here are examples of primary sources on the battle of Normandy (D-Day) in 1944:

--the diary of an American solider who fought there

--a newspaper article about the battle published in 1944

--a video produced by a reporter who was on the beaches with the soldiers

--a memoir written by one of the American generals

--an original photograph depiciting the fighting