Primary sources are any record produced by human or organizational activity. They provide scholars and researchers with a closer look into what the lives of people and the function of different organizations might have been like within their own time periods and social and cultural atmosphere.
Because they are a record of history, primary sources provide ample opportunity for original research. They differ from secondary sources, which usually represent someone else's research on a particular subject.
The Harry Ransom Center collections primarily reflect the records, paper, and artwork of literary figures. The Center has an especially strong collection in 20th- and 21st-century authors and publishers.
Primary sources allow us to study historical and cultural moments from their beginning. When scholars analyze how a primary source was created, by whom, and for what reason, they're able to make research-based claims about those materials.
It's important to remember that existing primary sources only represent a fraction of materials created by any person or organization. Many more materials exist beyond what has been preserved. Sometimes, what is missing in a collection of primary sources is just as important to research as what has been saved.
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