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Free College Movements: Finding & Using Primary Sources

Finding & Using Primary Sources

Canada College student newspaper article showing Anti-free increase rally

The Cañada College Long Valley Gazette student newspaper, vol. 25, no. 7, March 19, 1993.

Why use primary sources?

Primary sources give you a front-row seat to past events and unedited access to the people who shaped our history. You gain new perspectives by examining the past through the eyes and ears of someone who was there.  

Primary sources can also be challenging to use. 

The formats of primary sources may be unique and unfamiliar. They require critical analysis due to their creators’ intents and biases; the variety of contexts in which they have been created, preserved, and made accessible; and the gaps, absences, and silences that may exist in the materials. If you have questions, ask your instructor or a librarian for help!

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Not sure where to start? 


Primary Sources: Examples

Primary sources may include, but are not limited to:

letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, maps, speeches, interviews, documents produced by government agencies, photographs, audio or video recordings, born-digital items (e.g. emails), research data, and objects or artifacts (such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons).

-- Primary Sources on the Web: Finding, Evaluating, Using. ALA Reference and User Services Association, 2015.

Interactive Map: Which States Offer "Free" College?