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Waidner-Spahr Library

East Asian Studies: Primary Sources

This page will help you find research material for East Asian Studies projects, as well as help finding material in Chinese and Japanese

Library Catalog

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Primary Source Timeline

See our Primary Source Timeline to browse a selection of primary source databases organized by coverage dates and locations.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are generally defined as material produced at the time of an event, or by a person being studied. Examples of primary sources are:

  • personal and professional correspondence
  • professional papers
  • diaries and memoirs
  • manuscripts
  • political documents
  • photographs and other images
  • works of art and literature
  • artifacts
  • speeches
  • autobiographies
  • interviews and oral histories
  • newspapers and magazine articles when written at the time of an event

Whenever possible, primary sources should be consulted. The thoughts of those who lived through an era or an event provide you with first-hand perspective and allow you to question and challenge the assumptions made in secondary sources.  Examining primary sources can also help you develop a thesis.

Primary sources can be difficult to find. Most databases do not have an option that allows for direct searching on primary sources. They are often interspersed in books or disorganized in large collections of materials.

Detailed information about how to locate primary sources can be found on our Finding Primary Sources page.

The databases below are also collections of primary source material useful for East Asian Studies.

Primary Sources in Chinese Studies

Primary Sources in Japanese Studies