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Sport and Society in U.S. History

Books as primary sources

Combine terms such as these with your topic when constructing a search for primary sources. For example: baseball sources. Autobiographies of sports figures can be good primary sources. For example, Catching Dreams: My Life in the Negro Baseball Leagues, is a first hand account by Frazier Robinson about his personal experience playing ball.

Listed here are a few select volumes of primary sources that can be found on the third floor of Smith Library Center.

In addition to books, try these sources to find newspaper and magazine articles:

  • The New York Times is available on microfilm from 1851 to the present. To find articles on your topic, use either the print indexes in SLC or the NYT Search online, limiting your search to Specific Dates. For example, a search for Teapot Dome from 1922 through 1929 yields articles written about the scandal as it unfolded. Note: some articles are available free online. 
  • Use the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature found in the Research Commons to identify magazine articles contemporaneous to the time period of significant historical incidents. Older issues of magazines (periodicals) can be found in Bound Periodicals or on microfilm.

Primary sources on the web

American Memory from the Library of Congress provides access to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience.

Chronicling America from the Library of Congress allows you to search America's historic newspaper pages from 1789-1924.

DPLA Digital Public Library of America provides access to more than 15,000,000 items from libraries, archives, and museums across the country.

Google Books allows you to find books and magazine articles. To search specifically for full-text articles use this Advanced Book Search link and select Full view only and Magazines.

HathiTrust Digital Library offers a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.

The LA 84 Foundation Digital Library Collection includes articles, books, and other documents covering all aspects of sport, with a particular emphasis on Olympic information. The LA 84 Foundation operates the largest sports research library in North America.

The Portal to Texas History is a gateway to rare, historical, and primary source materials from or about Texas.

Sports Illustrated Vault contains a full historical run of the magazine all the way back to its first issue in August 1954. The Vault includes a search engine, allowing you to search by topic, person, team, etc.

Stark Center Electronic Archives is a collection of searchable, digitized materials from The H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports. The print collection is housed at UT Austin.

Types of sources

Primary sources are generally created by a participant in, or direct observer of, an event. They are usually first-person sources, and they reflect the observer’s or participant’s point of view. Examples are photographs, books or articles published during a time under study, recorded or transcribed interviews, government documents, films, letters, diaries, works of art, and published reports of experiments conducted by scientists or social scientists. Primary sources do not have to be used in their original form, however. They may be reproduced electronically, printed or published later and still be considered primary sources.

Secondary sources include interpretation or analysis of events by an author who was not present. This is often done by studying primary sources. Secondary sources are a step removed from an event or work of art or time period. Examples include books and articles, documentary films, reference books, and textbooks, and these may be printed, on microfilm, on DVD, or digital.

In different fields, typical examples of primary and secondary sources can vary, but in history a primary source might be a handwritten letter held by a library’s special collections department or the text of the same letter printed in its entirety in a published book. Or it could be a contemporary newspaper article reporting on an event. A secondary source could be an article or book that uses that letter or newspaper article as a source through which something about the life of a person or an event can be interpreted or drawn.

Both primary and secondary sources are important, and either or both types may be appropriate for historical research.

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