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Comparative Literature

Approaches to Finding Primary Sources

The "primaryness" of a source emerges in relation to the researcher's engagement with it. The UC Berkeley Libraries define primary sources as "either created during the time period being studied or...created at a later date by a participant in the events being studied (as in the case of memoirs)."

(source: Finding Historical Primary Sources: Getting Started, last updated 8/12/18,



When determining primary sources for your research, it's helpful to give yourself a historical context that defines your search. This could be a range of dates. It could also be determined by geographical sites of origin. You might also be interested in a specific type of source. Examples include photographs, diaries, advertisements, newspaper articles, web sites, video, and sound recordings.

Databases and digital repositories can offer a multitude of paths to potential primary source material for your research. I've shared some examples below. In addition, you might want to try searches in CLIO Catalog and CLIO Articles, limited by date of publication. 

Digital Collections