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Research Guides

What are Primary Sources

Primary Sources are first-hand accounts from of a topic from people who had or have a direct connection to this topic. They can take the form of manuscripts, early printed music, lesson plans, or recordings. 

In music education, the following materials are considered valuable primary sources:

1) Written  documents  e.g.,  autobiographies,  diaries,  letters,  scrapbooks,  memoirs,  magazines,  newspapers, government documents, institutional records, quantitative records such as school music enrollment numbers, demographics, test scores, music festival ratings,
2) Oral records e.g., interviews, audio and visual recordings of school concerts or festivals, recordings of student compositions,
3) Artifacts  e.g.,  photographs,  textbooks,  instructional  media,  musical  instruments,  trophies,  music scores, costumes and uniforms, concert props.

Frierson-Campbell, Carol, Hildegard C. Froehlich, Debbie Ann Rohwer, and Marie McCarthy. Inquiry in Music Education : Concepts and Methods for the Beginning Researcher. Second edition. New York, NY: Routledge, 2022.

Helpful Call Numbers for Primary Source Print Materials

  • MT9-15 Printed Pedagogical Aids
    • MT9: Examinations, Exercises, etc
    • MT10: Teachers' and Supervisors' Manuals, etc
    • MT15: Charts, Diagrams, etc
  • MT20-34 Systems and Methods
  • MT740-810 Instrumental Techniques for Children
  • MT825-MT853 Singing and Vocal Techniques: Systems & Methods
  • MT898-915 Vocal Techniques for Children

Special Collections Hours

See Music Library main page for current hours

Keywords to Use When Searching

  • Use key concepts/major themes
  • Brainstorm synonyms or related terms
  • Construct search using boolean operators
    • Short terms in all caps (AND, NOT, OR) – conjunctions to combine or exclude keywords in a search, resulting in more focused results

To search both singular and plural forms, try adding [OR] and the plural, or [*] after the last letter of the singular noun  

  • Sources (not for newspaper databases)
  • Autobiography
  • Interview(s)
  • “Oral History”/ “Oral Histories”
  • Letters
  • Correspondence
  • Diary/-ies
  • Papers
  • Microfilm
  • Manuscripts 
  • Memoir(s)
  • Archival Records
  • Photographs
  • Pamphlets
  • Speeches
  • Handbook(s)
  • Manual(s)
  • Conference Proceedings 
  • Statistics
  • Official Records
  • Textbooks