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Religion: Subject Guide: Primary Sources

Resources for your religion research in the Smith Library Center and on the Web.

About primary sources

In academic research, some sources are referred to as “primary” and some are “secondary.” All are important and may be needed for particular assignments.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are generally the work of a creator, participant in, or direct observer of an historical event, research effort, or a work of art. Examples are photographs, books or articles published during a time under study, recorded or transcribed interviews with participants, government documents, films, letters, diaries, works of visual art, novels or poems, musical scores, and reports of experiments conducted by scientists or social scientists.

Primary sources do not have to be used in their original form - they may be reproduced electronically, printed or published later and still be considered primary sources.

Secondary Sources

On the other hand, secondary sources include interpretation or analysis of events by an author who was not present. Secondary sources are a step removed from the event, work, or time period under study and may analyze or interpret the original. Secondary sources can include books and articles, documentary films, reference books, and textbooks.

Special Collections at SU









In the library's Special Collections, you can use rare and unique books and manuscripts applicable to your research topic. Use the search box on Special Collections web site to look for items. Special Collections materials cannot be checked out; instead, the John G. Tower Library reading room provides an elegant and comfortable space to read and study these materials. Look over the Special Collections hours, policies, and procedures for more information.

Special Collections has significant holdings in the area of religion, particularly works related to Methodism and Texas Methodism, the Henry E. Meyer Hymnal Collection, and a sizeable Bible collection.

Selected Primary Sources Online