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Latin American History: Caribbean Research: Finding primary sources

Why use primary sources?

Primary sources provide a window into the past—unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period.

Coming into close contact with these unique, often profoundly personal, documents and objects can provides a very real sense of what it was like to be alive during a long-past era.

Locating a primary source

The UHS Library has a number of books with primary sources on Latin America and the Caribbean - here is a list, though not every book is on topic. Though you can't be in the Library, if you see something that you think might be useful, please email Hayley and I can work with you to get access. 

Here are some useful general websites for Caribbean primary sources:

Many universities have Libguides relating to Latin American and Caribbean History. Some of the links will be to open access sites; however many will require you to have a university log in. Here is a selection of Libguides but you will find many more online.

What is a primary source?

Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time of the event you are studying. They are different from secondary sources, which are accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without first hand experience. 

Primary sources are created:

  • by someone who was present at or involved in the event
  • at the time of the event OR later in a memoir

A primary source is not necessarily your main source!