Skip to Main Content Library Homepage College Homepage
Research Guides

History: World: Find Primary Sources

A guide to the best world history resources in Geisel Library and online.

What are they?

Primary sources are documents that were either created at the time historical events occurred, or created by the history-makers themselves later in the form of memoirs and oral histories.  They provide a first-person perspective on events and people from the past. Primary sources such as diaries, letters, and government memos offer a window into the thoughts and actions of historical figures.

To learn more, see our guide on Finding and Using Primary Source Documents

Online Collections

Primary Sources on the Web

Historical Newspapers & Magazines

Ask a Librarian!

Contact the Reference Desk

email Email
Chat Chat
smartphone Text (603) 556-8883
 phone Call (603) 641-7306
calendar Make an Appointment


Primary vs. Secondary Sources

It is not always easy to discern the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary resources. The definition of "primary sources" varies across different fields of study. Ask your professor if you have any questions about what will be accepted as a primary source for a particular assignment.

For details on this distinction, see this chart.


The following are examples of primary source material:

  • Letters
  • Manuscripts
  • Original works of art
  • Literary works
  • Diaries or journals
  • Newspapers
  • Speeches
  • Interviews
  • Memoirs
  • Government documents
  • Photographs
  • Audio/video recordings
  • Original scientific research reports
  • Research data
  • Objects or artifacts