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Primary Source Research

Resources and research strategies for finding and using primary sources in the humanities

Citing Primary Sources

Chicago style (17th edition) is the main citation style used in history and is therefore the focus of this page. If you are using MLA style, please see the MLA style guide from Purdue OWL (9th edition) or the full MLA style guide.

How you cite a primary source in Chicago style depends mainly on two things:

  1. the primary source type (e.g., letter, diary, speech, map) and
  2. how you are accessing the source (e.g., from a book, a website, a library database).

Generally, the first part of your citation with describe the primary source, and the latter part of your citation will describe the resource in which the primary source appears. 

For examples of citing primary sources located in the common points of access listed below, see Trent University's Citing Primary Sources guide :

For more guidance on Chicago style, see the Purdue OWL Chicago style guide. Rowan students, faculty, and staff can also access the full Chicago Manual of Style Online.