Primary sources, which offer direct evidence into the experiences and worldview of historical actors, are the foundation of historical inquiry. Such sources feature prominently in almost all of the classes that you will take in the department, and they are also an essential feature of most kinds of historical research. However, incorporating primary sources into an original research project brings new challenges. Most importantly, you will need to locate suitable sources. Fortunately, at Wooster, we have a wealth of available sources, both physically in our library and its Special Collections and through a wide number of databases.
One of the best places to state your search for primary sources, though, is through secondary research. What kinds of sources have other scholars used to explore the event, historical figure, or process that interests you? Figuring out what kinds of sources have already been used can help you develop your own new question. Can you approach those same sources in a different way to gain new insight, or do you want to introduce new sources into the existing conversation?
This LibGuide is designed to help you get a sense of how to locate primary sources and of how to analyze them once you have done so.
The content for this guide has been generated by the History Department (Dr. Christina Welsch and Zdena Sinkhorn '22).