Primary sources are the raw materials of history and provide firsthand, original accounts of historical events. They are created by witnesses or first recorders of those events at the time they occurred. Examples of such materials include: letters, reports, newspaper articles, memos, photographs, and video recordings to name a few. Some firsthand accounts are documented at a later date, such as oral histories and memoirs.
Secondary sources, on the other hand, provide interpretations or accounts of events by someone without firsthand experience of the event.
A good example of a primary source that you can use--even from home-- is the collection of NCCC newspapers at NYS Historic Newspapers. Students at NCCC have published a newspaper since 1964! The name of the paper has changed a couple times, but you can search through the issues here:
You can read the current issue of The Spirit here.
Archival research utilizes primary sources held in an archives, special collections, or a similar repository.
If you're researching NCCC, the best place to find primary sources on the College is the Archives! Please contact us for access to the collection for research purposes.
Here are some books on the history of NCCC and SUNY Community Colleges which utilized primary sources from the Archives.
You can read transcripts of oral history interviews of former NCCC President Gerald Miller, former History Professor Graham Millar, and former Trustee Edward Pawenski through SUNY's digital repository.
In general, you will need:
Since part of the purpose to cite your sources is to allow others to access the information you used, properly citing archival materials is especially important because often archival materials are unique and not found elsewhere.