BUAD 301-Danielsen: Primary Sources

Business 301 Danielsen Team Research Project- Franchises

What are Primary Sources

Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a historical topic.
          Primary materials are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring.  However, primary sources can also include materials recreated later such as autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories.

Primary sources are characterized by their content and are available in different formats, such as 

  • Books 
         diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, first-hand accounts, speeches made at the time, interviews, correspondence
  • Articles
          From magazines and newspapers written at the time of the event.
  • Recordings (both audio and visual)
           Recorded at the time of the event or later by witnesses
  • Photographs (taken at the time of the event)

Primary vs Secondary sources

Primary vs Secondary Sources


Comparison across the disciplines

Art and Architecture Painting by Manet Article critiquing art piece ArtStor database
Chemistry/Life Sciences Einstein's diary Monograph on Einstein's life Dictionary on Theory of Relativity
Engineering/Physical Sciences Patent NTIS database Manual on using invention
Humanities Letters by Martin Luther King Web site on King's writings Encyclopedia on Civil Rights Movement
Social Sciences Notes taken by clinical psychologist Magazine article about the psychological condition Textbook on clinical psychology
Performing Arts Movie filmed in 1942 Biography of the director Guide to the movie

Table courtesy of University of Maryland Libraries -College Park

Databases of Primary Information

CSUF has Primary Sources!

For many primary source materials, try our University Archives and Special Collections.

Library guide for Special Collections.   

Video tutorial for Special Collections.  Using OneSearch to find materials in Special Collections.


For primary sources like interviews, consider our Center for Oral and Public History.


Center for Oral and Public History