Resources for Students and Faculty
What are Primary Sources?
Primary sources are items created during or after an event or specific time period by someone who was there - a participant or observer. These can include personal items (manuscript materials) such as letters, diaries, journals, scrapbooks, photographs, and artifacts, as well as records from an institution (archives) such as financial ledgers, correspondence, minutes, and reports. Items like maps, newspapers, magazines, and music can also be primary sources.
Below is a list of guides on primary source research -- including how to find, use, and cite them -- from a variety of institutions.
- Library Research Using Primary Sources, UC Berkeley
- Conducting Primary Research, Mount Holyoke College
- Using Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University
- Primary Source Research Guide, Five College Archive & Manuscript Collections
Archives and Special Collections staff can also answer questions about primary source research by email or phone (310-243-3895).
Where are "primary sources" and other research materials?
Information on collections at CSUDH, including papers of CSUDH Presidents, local history, and the CSU system archives can be found through the Archives homepage.
California Library Directory
The California State Library hosts a directory of California libraries drawn from annual reports by California's academic, public, special, state agency and county law libraries.
Online Archive of California (OAC)
The OAC is a database of finding aids (guides to collections of primary sources) from institutions throughout California, including CSUDH, UCLA, USC, the Getty Research Institute, and the Huntington Library.
An important mission of the Archives and Special Collections Department in the CSUDH Library is to support undergraduate and graduate teaching. Archivists are available to provide class orientations to introduce and/or encourage students to use primary materials for their class research projects.
Class tours and Archives Orientation consists of a walk-through of the department, a discussion of primary sources, and an overview of resources with a focus on how documentation can be used to improve papers and discover previously unknown facts.
If you want to reserve the Rare Books Room for an Archives presentation for a small class or for a larger class in the Archives Reading Room please contact Greg Williams or Tom Philo. If you donít know what subject matter the Archive holds please see our collections list. Collections generally focus on 20th century history, the history of 20th century education, public administration, urban planning, public safety, conflict resolution and a wide variety of other subjects. The Archives has paper, photographic video and audio materials. The Rare Books Room is also available for Departmental meetings that will in-part introduce faculty to the Archives.
For students interested in Archives, history, libraries or other topics, the Archives hosts a number of internships for credit or non-credit volunteer opportunities. Graduate interns generally arrange and describe archival collections or digitize collections and undergraduates generally arrange collections.
The Archives is always looking for donations of community organization records and the papers of prominent individuals. If you are aware of an organization whose records are at risk of being lost to history contact the Archives.
The Archivists are also happy to provide individual faculty or students with an orientation to Archives materials. The Archives has a great deal of digital images for your Blackboard course site or other networked presentations.
Please contact us to request that Archives and Special Collections materials be placed on hold for part or all of a semester. Your students will be able to use them in our secure reading room after completing the registration process.
If your class has a particular need to examine Archives materials as a group, please contact us to reserve a meeting room.