Citing primary sources can present challenges. Published primary sources may be quite a bit older than sources you are used to citing and therefore not have the same publication information available as more recently published sources. Additionally, some primary sources have never been traditionally published and are only found in a digital or physical archive or reprinted in secondary sources (examples include letters, photographs, diary entries, etc.).
This guide provides examples of how to cite some common primary sources in different styles, but it cannot provide examples of every single type of primary source you may come across. For more information, we recommend that you check the appropriate style manual, available on reserve at the circulation desk, as well as the additional links provided in this guide. And of course, you can always Ask a Librarian.
3. Chicago Style Sample Citations
- Documenting Legal Works in MLA Style
APA Quick Answers - References
Library of Congress - Using Primary Sources - APA
The Chicago Manual of Style Online
Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections Primary Source Citing Guide
Older primary sources may not always have an exact date associated with them. In these cases, you may be given an approximate date.
Books published before a certain date might have different requirements for citations.
When citing music, you need to be careful to make sure you know both who wrote the song and who performed it, as it these may sometimes be the same person(s), but this is not always the case. You may also need to know what year it was originally written, and if the specific recording you are citing is from that year or a different one.
Legal documents--such as court decisions, constitutions, laws, etc.--can be tricky to cite. Be sure to review how to cite them in the appropriate style.