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SSI2-119: Foodways

Primary Sources

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Primary sources are the "raw materials" of scholarship. Examples of primary sources vary by discipline. Your selection of primary source materials for your research project will depend on your topic and your approach.

It's a good idea to explore more than one possibility for your primary sources; try to identify at least three possibilities and then browse through all three before making your final choice.

Image from xkcd comics.

The examples and collections listed below are just a sampling; ask a librarian for help in identifying additional primary sources.

Newspapers and Magazines

In addition to the online collections linked below, print copies of popular magazines like Time, Newsweek, Harper's and Life are are also available in the Print Journals sections on the lower level of Collins Library. Check Primo for holdings information.

Anthologies of Primary Sources

These anthologies contain a rich variety of primary source materials--government documents, diaries, newspaper articles, etc. The advantage of using anthologies of primary sources is that the selections will have been curated and annotated by scholars who can provide context for each document.

Primary Sources in the Sciences

Primary sources in the sciences are publications which provide a full description of original research and the present the results of that research. The most common example of a primary source in the sciences is a scholarly article published in a peer-reviewed journal. 

"Old" Scholarship

It might initially seem odd to think of outdated scholarly work as primary source material. However, scholars work in specific times and contexts which in turn leave a mark on their scholarship. 

Several subject (scholarly) databases include extensive journal backfiles, sometimes dating back to the late nineteenth century. The trick is to use the date limiters to make sure the results you get are from particular eras.

Databases with older scholarship:

Digital Collections

Academic libraries and historical museums often try to digitize primary source collections held in their archives and special collections in order to make them available to the widest possible audience. This is only a sampling of the collections out there, just to get you started! 

Reports, Data, and Statistics

Depending on your focus and if you are interested in pursuing a data-driven project, you may be able to use industry or market reports or data sets from the following sources. 

Puget Sound Archives & Special Collections

The Archives & Special Collections collects, preserves, and makes available primary source material for the research and teaching use of our students, faculty, and staff.  In addition to documenting life at the University, the collections represent regional, national and international issues. 

Several options are listed below or you can browse a small selection of photographs, historical documents, digitized collections, and archival collections online.

If you would like assistance researching primary sources in the Archives & Special Collections, please contact


Collins Library also has a large collection of artists' books, including several that engage food-related topics. A few examples are listed below.


University Historical Sources:


A&SC also has many menus and university related cookbooks. Some of these have been scanned and added to our digital ephemera collection. Contact to learn more.

Archives & Special Collections Hours

The Archives & Special Collections is located on the second floor of the Collins Memorial Library.

Set up an appointment: We are open to researchers by appointment Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. To make an appointment, email or book online

We look forward to assisting you!