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What are primary sources?

Students will often be required to discuss and cite primary sources in their papers. Primary sources include:

- official published documentary sources, such as documents of governments and state departments, legislative texts, constitutions, treaties, official records of parliamentary debates, court judgements and reports of governmental enquiries and commissions
- unpublished and/or unofficial documentary sources, such as written records of minutes and memos stored in archives, and the memoirs, diaries, correspondence and autobiographies of individuals associated with official institutions.*

Primary sources are contrasted with secondary sources, which are commentaries, essays, or studies on topics.

There are of course grey areas; check with your professor if you're unsure whether the source you want to engage meets the criteria of the assignment.

L'Estrange, Sean. "Historical Methods". In The A-Z of Social Research, RobertL. Miller and JohnD. Brewer. Sage, 2003-. Accessed September 22, 2015.

Top Databases

Nova Scotia Archives Historical Newspapers

Offers extensive historical newspapers from around Nova Scotia.

The Centre for Newfoundland Studies (CNS)

Offers a portal to current daily newspapers, digitized old newspapers, and so forth.

Connecting Canadians : Canada's Multicultural Newspapers

Historical newspapers that document the early years of immigrant experience in Canada. Coverage: 1919 - early 1970s.

Google Newspapers Archive [Free Access]

A diverse selection of primarily North American newspaper content. Includes Edmonton Journal (1913-1986), Calgary Herald (1929-1987), and Lethbridge News (1886-1900).

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers [Library of Congress]

Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Includes Benton, MT Record (southern terminus of the Whoop-Up Trail).

The Micmac News (1965-1991)

The Micmac News (1965-1991) is an important example of Mi’kmaw print culture; it was first developed by Roy Gould in Membertou in 1965 and later published until 1991 by the Union of Nova Scotia Indians and the Native Communications Society of Nova Scotia, respectively.