The definition of a primary source depends upon the discipline and on how one is using the source.
Usually, a primary source is a direct, first-hand account of an event. It is usually something that was created at the time of an event, or shortly thereafter. Primary sources can often be found in archives. Examples include:
In contrast, a secondary source would be something that interprets, analyses, or remarks upon a primary source. Examples include:
Two-Spirit and Indigenous Transgender Stories and Photos of Safety, Belonging and Wellbeing (video recording). March 9, 2016. Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada.
University of Winnipeg Two-Spirit Archives. Includes some online content.
The University of Minnesota houses a Two-Spirit Papers archival collection. Material in this collection does not circulate and is only available for in-house use.
Use search terms like "Indigenous" "Indian" and "Native". Or, if you're looking for specific people, places or events, try using those words as search terms.
Smithsonian Institute Archive (currently under maintenance)
The Mamawi Project creates space for Métis young people to (re)build relations, discuss the future of our Nation, and to celebrate who we are. See their kîyokêwin zine.
UBC's Library, Archives, and Rare Books & Special Collections (RBSC) are each separate institutions. RBSC Archives holds archival materials collected by UBC, while the UBC Archives holds material created by UBC departments and professors. You will have to search each institution separately to find all the primary source materials held at UBC.
In the UBC Library Catalogue, try combining your topic keywords with one of these terms.
For Example: "Residential schools" AND Autobiograph?
Search Tip: Use quotation marks to search for a phrase (e.g. "First Nations"). Use a question mark to truncate a term to search for words with the same stem (e.g. Biograph? retrieves Biography, Biographies, Biographical, etc.).
UBC Archives has put together a guide to finding First Nations Historical Resources in the UBC Archives. Note that further searching within finding aids may be necessary to locate this material.
UBC Rare Books & Special Collections
The best way to search for this material is to use Rare Books & Special Collections database search. RBSC's search does not use phrase (e.g. "residential school") or truncated (e.g. residential school?) searching. Try a simple keyword search (e.g. Residential school).
In the UBC Library Catalogue, use the terms "oral narratives" or "oral history" with your search (e.g.: "tlingit oral history").
The following are examples of online oral history projects – you will find many more online or in the UBC Catalogue.
The official MLA and APA citation style guides do not have guidelines for citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers.
NorQuest College has developed the following templates for citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers (CC BY-NC 4.0) in the spirit of wahkôhtowin and reconciliation, and we thank them for sharing their template.
For information on the development of these templates and how to use them in practice, please see:
Lorisia MacLeod. "More Than Personal Communication: Templates for Citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers." KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 5, no. 1 (2021). https://doi.org/10.18357/kula.135
Unlike other personal communications, Elders and Knowledge Keepers should be cited in-text and in the References list.
The in-text citation should follow APA guidelines for formatting in-text citations for paraphrasing and direct quotes. Include the Elder or Knowledge Keeper's last name and the year of communication. For example:
Delores Cardinal described the nature of the... (2004).
The nature of the place was... (Cardinal, 2004).
Corresponding References list entry format:
Last name, First initial., Nation/Community. Treaty Territory if applicable. Where they live if applicable. Topic/subject of communication if applicable. personal communication. Month Date, Year.
For example: Cardinal, D., Goodfish Lake Cree Nation. Treaty 6. Lives in Edmonton. Oral teaching. personal communication. April 4, 2004.
Unlike most other personal communications, Elders and Knowledge Keepers should be cited in-text and in the Works Cited list.
The in-text citation should follow MLA guidelines for formatting in-text citations for paraphrasing and direct quotes. Include the Elder or Knowledge Keeper's last name. For example:
Delores Cardinal described the nature of the...
The nature of the place was... (Cardinal).
Corresponding Works Cited list entry:
Last name, First name., Nation/Community. Treaty Territory if applicable. City/Community they live in if applicable. Topic/subject of communication if applicable. Date Month Year.
For Example: Cardinal, Delores., Goodfish Lake Cree Nation. Treaty 6. Lives in Edmonton. Oral teaching. 4 April 2004.
Note: If you would like to approach an Elder or Knowledge Keeper for teachings, remember to follow protocol or if you are unsure what their protocol is, please ask them ahead of time.
Chicago Manual of Style
Work is underway to develop guidelines for citing Elders and Knowledge Keepers with Chicago Manual of Style. Please check back for updates.