Skip to main content

Using primary sources: Home

A guide for secondary students on the use of primary sources in research


Source primary material in JStor

Primary sources may be located in Jstor by going to advanced search and selecting the Pamphlets option of sources.

Click here to find out more about primary sources in Jstor

Australian Newspapers as primary sources

Many Australian newspapers are available on ANZ Reference Centre from 1999+

Free to use image from Pixabay

Click here to go to the ANZ Reference Centre

National Archives of Australia

An introduction to primary sources and how to use them.

Trove - The National Library of Australia

Find and get over 396,671,295 Australian and online resources:
books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives and more

National Museum of Australia

Free to use image from Pixabay

Lists of primary sources

What are primary sources?

What are primary sources?

Primary sources are artefacts that provide first-hand knowledge of historical events or experiences.

You may also find primary source material reproduced within a secondary source, such as a published biography or history book.

Primary sources can include:

personal narratives, diaries, memoirs, correspondence

speeches and letters

government documents

treaties, declarations and laws

sheet music, works of art, photographs, maps, advertisements

film, television programs and video footage

newspaper articles

journal articles that present original research


Evaluating primary sources

Evaluating primary sources

Primary sources are foundations of histories. Evaluation of sources is essential to scholarly research.

Criteria for evaluation: Similar critieria apply to those for general website and source evaluation:

  • Who was the author and who was the audience?
  • What was the purpose of the document or motive for writing it?
  • Does the writer have an obvious bias?
  • when was the document written and what was the effect of the document on history?
  • What effect did the document have on your view of this topic or event?
  • Compare the primary source information with secondary source information.

From: University of Western Australia

IBDP History - OPVL source analysis: origin, purpose, value, limitations

Created and share with permission by Brendan Toohey, AIS. 2014