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History: A Guide to McFarlin Library Resources: Primary Sources

A guide to online and print sources available through McFarlin Library

Primary Sources

Writing Implements from Hill's Manual

Historical primary sources provide direct testimony of an event.  They may be created at the time of the event or later written down in memoirs or autobiographies by witnesses who experienced the event.

Some examples of primary sources are:

  • Unpublished materials, such as diaries, manuscripts, letters and speeches
  • Published first-person accounts such as memoirs, autobiographies and interviews
  • Official records from the time, such as government documents, memoranda, court and police reports, or census information
  • Articles in newspapers and magazines written at the time of the event

Information about these different types of primary sources, and their online availability from McFarlin Library, may be found by selecting items on the drop-down menu underneath the Primary Sources tab.

Depending on your research topic, the McFarlin Library Special Collections is an invaluable asset for doing research using primary sources.  According to the Special Collections website: "The University of Tulsa’s McFarlin Library Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects and preserves a rich array of over 950 collections, comprised of over 12 million archival objects (papers, photographs, artifacts, diaries, letters, maps, etc.) of unique primary-source research material on a broad range of topics. There are also over 160,000 volumes of rare books.  These collections are available to any person for research during regular business hours."  Please contact Special Collections for more information: 918-631-2496 or