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UNHP 1100: Honors Forum

Center for Writing and Communication

Free writing assistance is available at the Center for Writing and CommunicationStop by to get feedback on any writing assignment for any class.  Be sure to bring a research paper, essay, or essay exam *and* the original assignment sheet with you. Schedule an appointment or just come on by (Library Learning Commons).   

Primary Sources

Primary sources are firsthand accounts or records of events in history. These sources reflect the point of view of a participant or observer at a particular point of time. There are a wide range of primary source materials available for historical research. For example:

  • Magazines, newspapers, books, and pamphlets written and published during a particular time period
  • Diaries, letters, or papers usually written for personal reasons. Some of these may have been published later, usually after the writer’s death.
  • Reports and records such as census data or minutes of an organization
  • Autobiographies and memoirs often written long after the events took place and therefore, may be somewhat less reliable.
  • Photos, audio recordings, movies, buildings, and other physical objects may also reveal information about the time period and popular culture

Compilations of primary sources such as a book containing many short excerpts from primary sources are not as useful as the original sources themselves.

Source materials may have a bias or purpose which you should be aware of. For example, an article from a northern paper during the civil war will read much differently than an article from a southern paper. When reading primary sources, think about why the piece was written, when it was written, and what it tells us about the writer and the time period.

Writing an Annotated Bibliography

A bibliography is a list of sources used for writing a paper.  An annotated bibliography also includes a summary and/or evaluation.  It might include one or more of the following: 

Summary (what are the main arguments?)

Assessment (how useful is the source, is it reliable, is it biased?)

Reflection (how does it fit with your research?)

Here are some helpful websites with instructions and examples -