A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. Some types of primary sources include:

  • Original Documents (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records
  • Creative Works: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art
  • Relics or artifacts: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings

There are plenty of primary source material available via the Morgan Library. Search the catalog using key words such as, ‘diary’, ‘correspondence’, ‘memoirs’, and ‘letters’.  I also encourage you to, whenever you find primary sources excerpted in secondary material, follow the citation trail and find the source the author used for yourself. Finally, I also encourage you to look into using the University’s archival material http://lib.colostate.edu/archives/.

Outside of the University there are other resources

Archive Finder
Archive Finder is a current directory which describes over 220,000 collections of primary source material housed in thousands of repositories across the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

ArchiveGrid is a collection of nearly two million archival material descriptions, including records from WorldCat and finding aids harvested from the web.Archival collections held by thousands of libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives are represented in ArchiveGrid.

Artists’ Papers Register
A location register of the papers of artists, designers and craftspeople held in publicly accessible collections in the United Kingdom and Ireland. (This resource is currently offline).

MoMA Archives
The Museum of Modern Art Archives includes: a) records relevant to the Museum’s history (minutes, committee reports, departmental papers, photographs, sound recordings, and videotapes); b) personal papers of curators and directors when relevant to Museum interests or history; c) papers of individuals related to Museum interests, such as Trustees and former staff; d) oral histories; e) twentieth-century primary resource material, including papers, manuscripts, and photographs; f) a photographic archive comprised of tens of thousands of images.

Smithsonian Archives of American Art
Dedicated to collecting, preserving, and providing access to primary sources that document the history of the visual arts in America. Holdings include more than 20 million letters, diaries and scrapbooks of artists, dealers, and collectors; manuscripts of critics and scholars; business and financial records of museums, galleries, schools, and associations; photographs of art world figures and events; sketches and sketchbooks; rare printed material; film, audio and video recordings; and the largest collection of oral histories anywhere on the subject of art.

WorldCat is a database of more than 1 billion records of books and other materials held in more than 10,000 academic, public, special and national libraries around the world. You can use the Advanced Search option to limit your search to “Archival Materials.”