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University Library

American Multicultural Studies

What are primary sources?

A primary source is a document that provides a direct or first-hand account of an event, object, or person. They are artifacts of the time in which they were created. Resources like diaries, letters, and photographs are some of the most common types of primary sources, but other types include newspaper articles, literary works, art objects, data from experimental research, video and audio recordings, and legal documents. 

Primary source materials are especially rich when studying American history and culture. The library provides access to many kinds of primary source materials, both online through digitized collections, and in our Special Collections. 

Digital Primary Sources

Library Special Collections

The library collects unique and rare materials in several subject areas. If you're researching the North Bay, our collections are especially rich and interesting. 

These collections can only be accessed via appointment. You can request an appointment online or by calling 707-664-4152. 

Many of our collections have been digitized and are accessible online at

View our full list of special collections online at the Special Collections website