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Primary Sources for the Liberal Arts

A Gumberg Library research guide


Find Primary Sources Through Gumberg Library

Gumberg Library can supply liberal arts students, not just those in History and English, with a wealth of online resources providing primary source materials. All these resources can be accessed off-campus as well as on. To use them off-campus, please enter your Multipass username and password when prompted.

What are primary sources?

In History, primary sources are documents and other sorts of things, including objects, from the time period being studied. The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition would be a primary source because they give eye-witness testimony regarding the events of the journey by the leaders of the expedition. In English classes, the work being read by the class, about which students may have to write a paper analyzing some aspect of the work, would be their primary source.


Autobiographies, diaries, speeches, interviews, government reports, contemporary news accounts, articles presenting original research, original photographs

What are secondary sources?

Secondary sources comment on, interpret, or analyze information found in primary sources.


Books about a topic written later, literary criticism, book reviews, biographies

need help?

Need Help?

If you need help using Gumberg Library resources, please contact Ted Bergfelt, Humanities Librarian via email or by phone at 412-396-5351 (M-F, 8:30-4:30 pm, ET). If he is not available, Ask Gumberg