Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Mary Baldwin University Logo
Martha S. Grafton Library

Virginia History: Primary Sources @ Grafton

A guide to resources in Virginia history research.

Virginia, 1822

What is a Primary Source?

A Primary Source is a document that gives a first-hand account of an event or individual. That means the creator of the document experienced or recorded the event at the time, or very near the time that it took place. 

Woodrow Wilson at Mary Baldwin College, 1912. Photo Credit: Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Archives on Flickr


  • Diaries, scrapbooks (and other personal papers)
  • Correspondence (from telegraphs to e-mails)
  • Memoirs, auto-biographies
  • Financial, business records
  • Photographs
  • Video clips
  • Speeches
  • Government documents
  • Sound recordings
  • Statistics
  • Laboratory research
  • Newspapers (only in a historical context)
  • Field notes

Adapted from George, Mary W. The Elements of Library Research. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.

Chat with a Librarian

JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.