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Queer Studies

Primary Sources

What are primary sources?

Primary sources can be broadly defined as first-hand accounts from individuals with a direct connection to a topic.

Often primary sources are used in historical research, where primary sources are things that originate from the time period of study. While this may be text-based (letters, newspaper articles, etc.), primary sources can also include objects, clothing, media like music and movies, and photographs. 

Outside of the historical context, primary sources are a valuable tool for analysis of the present. Contemporary primary sources can include government documents, original research studies, datasets, patents, court cases, and current media like music and movies. 

How do you find primary sources?

Depending on your topic, and whether your research is historical, there are lots of places where you can find primary sources! Often historical materials will be kept in archival collections. This type of collection seeks to preserve the materials for the future while still making them accessible to researchers. Many of the sources on this page are online collections that provide users with digital access to their collections. 

How do primary sources relate to queer studies?

Primary sources are a really important part of queer studies research because they can often be used to incorporate the voices, ideas, and knowledge of those who are traditionally excluded from academic discourse. Primary sources are a way to move these perspectives (in the words of bell hooks) "from margin to center" by including a more diverse set of voices that are usually silenced by various forms of oppression. 

Online Collections and Archives

Historical Collections
Art Collections

Pollak Library Primary Source Collections

General Primary Source Collections