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African American History and Culture to 1860 (1865)

This guide is designed to support students in HIST 251 with Melanie Chambliss for Fall 2020

What is a citation?

How do you cite primary sources?

"Creating Citations for Primary Sources in Digital Collections," recorded September 2020, 3 minutes

Creating citations for primary sources

The first step in creating a citation for a primary source is to gather as much information as possible about the source. Here is a list of the pieces of information you should try to identify: 

  • Creator (e.g., name of the author, interviewee, government agency, artist, etc.):
  • Title:
  • Format (e.g., map, cartoon, photograph, etching, letter, etc.):
  • Original publication name and location (if published):
  • Date it was created or published:
  • Institution that houses that original source and its location (especially if it is an unpublished work):
  • Name of the website or digital collection where you retrieved it:
  • URL:
  • Date you retrieved/accessed it:

Once you've identified as much information about the source as you can, you can begin to build your citation. The structure of the citation will be dependent on the citation style you are using (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) and the format of the source material (article, book, letter, map, photograph, etc.). 

Use the links below to find citation structures in MLA style for a variety of source formats (note: Citing Primary Sources from the Library of Congress may be the most helpful). With primary sources, you may not find an exact match for the format of the source as many primary sources a unique. Find a format that most closely matches your source and use that as the basis for building your citation. 

Help with MLA (Modern Language Association) Style