Primary source digital collections (colonialism/decolonization)

Finding primary sources

These words and phrases are standard terms (metadata) used in many databases and  library catalogs to signal primary sources.

  • charters
  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • early works
  • interviews
  • manuscripts
  • oratory
  • pamphlets
  • personal narratives
  • sources
  • speeches
  • letters
  • documents

So you might add one of these terms to your search.  Thus: Haiti--History--Coup d'etat 1991 and add the subdivision "Personal narratives."

You are combining Place and Time and Subject and then Type of Source.

What is a primary source (redux)

Each academic discipline creates and uses primary and secondary sources differently; the definition of a primary source only makes sense in the context of a specific discipline or field of inquiry. In the humanities and the arts, a primary document might be an original creative work, or it might be a part of the historical record written about, or near the time of an event. In the sciences, it might be a publication of original research (such as a journal article)

Here are two definitions that try to capture the elusive nature of primary documents:

  • A definition from Cornell: Primary sources are the main text or work that you are discussing (e.g. a sonnet by William Shakespeare; an opera by Mozart); actual data or research results (e.g. a scientific article presenting original findings; statistics); or historical documents (e.g. letters, pamphlets, political tracts, manifestoes).
    ["What is a Source?"Recognizing and Avoiding Plagiarism. Cornell University. College of Arts and Sciences.]
  • A definition from Yale: "A primary source is firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. The nature and value of a source cannot be determined without reference to the topic and questions it is meant to answer. The same document, oranother pieceof evidence, may be a primary source in one investigation and secondary in another. The search for primary sources does not, therefore, automatically include or exclude any category of records or documents."
    [Yale University Library Primary Sources Research Colloquium in History]

What is CRL?

The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is a consortium of North American universities, colleges, and independent research libraries. The consortium acquires and preserves newspapers, journals, documents, archives, and other traditional and digital resources for research and teaching and makes them available to member institutions through interlibrary loan and electronic delivery.