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ARH 380 Kulpa: Primary Sources

Course guide to support student research projects for ARH 380

Primary Sources - Art History

About Primary Sources

  • Primary sources are first-hand information
  • They are sources as close as possible to the information you are studying

Examples of Primary Sources

  • A work of art, itself, is a primary source
  • Items written by the artist, such as journals, a diary, an autobiography and letters  
  • Government documents
  • Memoirs
  • Oral histories
  • Newspaper or magazine articles, written by someone who attended an opening, exhibition or talk by the artist are primary sources

Finding Primary Sources

  • In the library catalog, try an author search for the artist - Ex: Jenny Holzer - 
  • NY Times Historical Database - New York Times, Historical  Tip: Try filtering by Document type - Review in the facets on the left margin
  • Other newspapers
  • Artist's web presence
  • Alma mater archives
  • Clues/Bibliographies in Encyclopedia articles 
  • Web search - artist's name +archives +sources 
  • Interviews can be primary sources if they have not been edited.