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Primary Sources: Human Sexuality

Primary sources are firsthand accounts or original documents created during the studied period.  These sources provide direct evidence or firsthand testimony about an event, person, or topic without interpretation or commentary by later scholars. Examples of primary sources include letters, diaries, speeches, interviews, photographs, newspapers, government documents, and artifacts. They offer invaluable insights into the thoughts, beliefs, and experiences of individuals and communities from the past. By engaging with primary sources, researchers can delve into the context and complexities of historical events, gaining a deeper understanding of the people, cultures, and societies of bygone eras. Primary sources are the building blocks of historical research, allowing scholars to analyze, interpret, and construct narratives based on authentic evidence. They enable historians and other researchers to explore multiple perspectives, challenge assumptions, and uncover previously unknown details about the past. Ultimately, primary sources offer a direct connection to history, enriching our understanding of the world and the human experience across time.
Examples of primary sources are:

  • Diaries, journals, speeches, interviews, letters, memos, manuscripts, and other papers in which individuals describe events in which they were participants or observers;
  • Memoirs and autobiographies;
  • Records of organizations and agencies of government;
  • Published materials written at the time of the event;
  • Photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures, video recordings documenting what happened;
  • Artifacts of all kinds; and
  • Research reports in the sciences and social sciences.