The University of California at Berkeley has an excellent definition of primary sources. Reading through the first few pages of this Web site will be crucial as you try to find primary documents on your topic.
Auburn University provides a great explanation of the differences between primary, secondary and tertiary sources.
Because of their currency, with some being published daily, newspapers are a good source for primary documents.
(Courtesy of Paulien Osse, Cairo, Egypt, 2011; Wikimedia Commons)
The following are just a few of the databases you might try to identify primary documents in American History.
Use the Libraries' ADVANCED SEARCH to find primary sources on your topic in the WMU collection.
Use some or all of the following keywords that will help you identify primary documents that we have in our collection. The generic Library of Congres subject heading for primary documents is sources. Here are some of the most helpful keywords to use:
The trick is to combine one or more of these keywords with whatever topic you are researching. For example:
or the following search:
While not every single item that comes up is guaranteed to be a primary document, at least some of them should be.