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Primary sources are firsthand accounts of something; they reflect the viewpoint of a participant or observer. Examples relevant to Political Sciences include the following, but are not limited to:
- Speeches, interviews, letters
- Oral histories
- Statistical data
- Photographs and audio recordings as well as transcripts
- Government records
- Data created in the process of conducting research, e.g. field notes
- Journalism - this is a grey area; consult your professor or a librarian.
Why Primary Sources?
Primary sources may either be relevant to your research or provide a unique perspective to your research by providing firsthand accounts that provide depth to your research. All research can benefit from primary sources, but if you are researching historical foreign policy, some of the historical documents archives noted on this page may be of particular relevance.
Select US Archival Resources
Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy
Avalon includes select historical documents related to economics, law, history, diplomacy, and government from 4000 BCE to the 21st century.
Documents on American Foreign Relations
1939 - 1969. Ekstrom Library 3rd floor: JX 231 . D6
Foreign Relations of the United States: Historical Documents
"The Office of the Historian is staffed by professional historians who are experts in the history of U.S. foreign policy and the Department of State and possess unparalleled research experience in classified and unclassified government records" (Who We Are, Office of the Historian).
Frontline Diplomacy: The Foreign Affairs Oral History
Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (Library of Congress)
National Security Archive
"Founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars to check rising government secrecy, the National Security Archive combines a unique range of functions: investigative journalism center, research institute on international affairs, library and archive of declassified U.S. documents ("the world's largest nongovernmental collection" according to the Los Angeles Times), leading non-profit user of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, public interest law firm defending and expanding public access to government information, global advocate of open government, and indexer and publisher of former secrets" (About, NSA).