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Archives Research Center General Research Guide: Archives Research Center Overview

Identifying and locating primary sources at the Archives Research Center and Beyond

What are Primary and Secondary Sources?


Primary sources are the original records created by people who participated and witnessed specific historical period and/or event.  Primary sources allow researchers to gain better insight into historical figures and events



Secondary sources are created by individuals who were not direct participants in an event. For example, books on the Atlanta University Center’s history are secondary sources because the author analyzes, interprets, retells, or explains events for which they were not present and did not personally witness.  Secondary sources help you understand a topic and give you different views of historical people, events, and occurrences.


What are Archives?

Archives, sometimes called archival repositories, contain one-of-a-kind materials such as diaries, letters, and photos that are preserved because these materials have long-term value for research. The Archives Research Center helps to connect the local community and the world to the rich historical and cultural resources at the Atlanta University Center. Our collections reflects the diverse contributions, achievements, and experiences of African Americans and the African diaspora.


Assistant Head, Archives Research Center

Examples of Primary Sources

  • Diaries
  • Letters
  • Oral Histories
  • Photographs
  • Social Media Accounts
  • Video Images/Film
  • Emails, Maps
  • Scrapbooks
  • Artwork
  • Artifacts 

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