Primary sources are original materials that have not been altered or distorted in any way.
• paper documents, such as personal letters, maps, photographs
• sound recordings, film, oral histories.
• artwork, such as posters and drawings.
Archival collections are described in documents called .
By using a finding aid, a researcher gets an understanding of a collection in its entirety, sees the relationships between its component parts, and locates the portions of a collection pertinent to research.
Finding aids sometimes provide narrative portions describing the background of a collection (how and when it was formed, how the archives acquired it, etc.), and how the archival staff has arranged or ordered the materials in the collection.
Archival research is a type of primary research which involves seeking out and extracting evidence from original archival records.
Archival research is different from secondary research (undertaken in a library or online), which involves identifying and consulting secondary sources relating to a topic.
• Such as books and journal articles.
Archival = Primary
Every discipline has its own universe of primary sources. Ask questions to focus your search. For example, you might ask: