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HIST 135 / JWST 289E: Civil Discourse or Urban Riot: Why Cities Don't (Often) Explode

Course guide for hist 135 / jwst 289E

What is a Primary Source?

Primary sources are usually defined as first hand information or data that is generated by witnesses or participants in past events. Primary sources are characterized not by their format but rather by the information they convey and their relationship to the research question. The interpretation and evaluation of these sources becomes the basis for other research. 

Why Do Research Using Primary Sources?

People seek out primary sources because they are looking for direct evidence and information in order to better understand objects, people, places, and events from the past. Researchers use these materials for many reasons, including researching historical people, places, and events; family history; literary analysis; statistical research; studying performance practice; legal research; and marketing.

Primary sources come in many forms, including letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, memoirs, documents produced by government agencies such as Congress or the Office of the President, photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures or video recordings, research data, and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons.

These sources serve as the raw material to interpret the past, and when they are used along with previous interpretations by historians, they provide the resources necessary for historical research.

University of Maryland Libraries own and provide access to many primary materials in all kinds of formats, including books, microforms and electronic collections. 

Just as you will use WorldCat for identifying and locating books as secondary sources, you will use WorldCat to identify and locate books as primary sources.
Follow these steps:
Advanced Search
Date range

So, looking for primary source books on the Baltimore Riots:


WorldCat Advanced Search Baltimore Riots


In addition to the Historical Newspapers database, be sure to check for additional sources by clicking on the
Historical Newspapers and Periodicals Historical (pre 1990) 
Note the dates covered.
American Periodical Series ( 1740 - 1900)

Nation Digital Archive (1865 - present)

Databases browse by subject type

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