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HIST 4303: The Civil War (Fall 2018)

What is a Primary Source?


Primary sources are materials that were produced during the period you are researching or by people who witnessed or were involved in events.


They include materials such as letters, diaries, speeches, company records, government documents, newspapers, films, photographs, artifacts, etc.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman.

Image courtesy of Archives & Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

Bradford, Sarah H. "Harriet Tubman." Wood engraving. As published in Sarah H. Bradford, Scenes from the Life of Harriet Tubman, frontspiece. W.J. Moses, Auburn, New York. 1869.

CARS checklist

Dr. Robert Harris invented a very simple checklist for anyone using information sources: 

Credibility. Accuracy. Reasonableness. Support.

He explains it at his Web site VirtualSalt

Special Collections

Image courtesy of Archives & Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

The Department of Archives and Special Collections houses a variety of rare and unique materials. The Department is located on the third floor of the William H. Hannon Library on the campus of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Use of the department's materials is by appointment only, but visitors are welcome to visit the gallery space anytime during opperating hours. 

For information on making an appointment, please call 310.338.5710 or email and refer to the hours and rules of the Department.

To search Special Collections holdings on this topic, use the Online Archive of California search box at the link below, and search: lmu civil war. You can also search by collection name: 

008 Richard Blackstone Military Papers, 1864-1925
056 Civil War Memorabilia Collection
069 Allen Jenkins United States Army Discharge Papers 
079 Civil War Union Officer’s Campaign Trunk
103 Loyola Marymount University Civil War Collection
MS122 Francis John Baptiste Romer Civil War Scrapbook and Newspaper Clippings Collection


Recommended LMU Primary Source Collections

The following is a short list of primary resources recommended by Professor Bittel and the LMU Reference Librarians. These are intended as starting points, not resources that will provide exhaustive primary sources on your topic. Consult a reference librarian as needed!

Non LMU Primary Resources

Non-text sources