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American Federal Government (POLS 1113): Primary Sources

A basic guide for the study of the principles, structure, processes and functions of the Federal government of the United States.

What Are Primary Sources?

For Instructors

The Library of Congress provides handouts that explain why & how to use primary sources.

Definition of Primary Source

"Examples of primary source materials may include text sources (e.g. letters to the editor), photographs, etchings, paintings, maps, diaries, speeches, cartoons, broadsides, newspaper or other first-hand accounts of events, as well as audio and video footage." Shiveley

photo of Birmingham jail docket with signatures from Ralph D. Abernathy and Martin Luther King
This is a photo of a City of Birmingham warden's docket from April 12, 1963.  Image from the Archives Department of the Birmingham Public Library.

Listed here are the names Ralph D Abernathy and Martin L. King, arrested for demonstrating without a permit. During his confinement, King wrote his famous Letter from the Birmingham Jail.

Shiveley, James M. Using Internet Primary Sources to Teach Critical Thinking Skills in Government, Economics, & Contemporary World Issues. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2001.

Primary Source Video

Where to Find American Federal Government Primary Documents

  Metro Campus Library: 918.595.7172 | Northeast Campus Library: 918.595.7501 | Southeast Campus Library: 918.595.7701 | West Campus Library: 918.595.8010

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