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English Language & Literature: Primary Sources

Barnum & Bailey Poster -- 1916

barnum and bailey dancing bears

The Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth... Bears that Dance. (1916?)

Digital Collections & Historical Documents

Historical Newspaper Databases

Microtext Collections

The Microtext Collection in the library contains rare and historic primary sources on a variety of topics. Find them in the library catalog or browse the Microtext Subject Guide.


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What is a primary source?

"A primary source provides direct evidence or firsthand testimony concerning the period or subject under investigation... Examples [for the humanities] include:

  • Diaries, letters, speeches, interviews, manuscripts
  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • Records of organizations and government agencies
  • Journal and newspaper articles written at the time
  • Photographs, audio recordings, video recordings
  • Public opinion polls conducted at the time"

Taken from the Boston University Libraries guide to primary sources