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Archives: Primary Sources & Archival Research

A guide to the Archives and Special Collections at Niagara County Community College.

What are primary sources?

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.

NCCC Newspapers

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. 

NCCC Commencement Programs

NCCC's Commencement Ceremony Programs are now available on New York Heritage! 

The PDF files are fully-searchable, include details on each college graduation ceremony from the very first graduating class to the present. Programs list the names of graduates and their degrees. There are details on the ceremony procession, including keynote speakers, as well as background on academic rituals such as the cap and gown.

You can view the collection through this link. 

Primary Source Database

Teaching with Photographs

Archival Research

Archival research utilizes primary sources held in an archives, special collections, or a similar repository. 

Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research

Teaching with Primary Source Documents

NCCC Research

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. 

Oral History transcripts

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. 

Resources on NCCC History

Here are some books on the history of NCCC and SUNY Community Colleges which utilized primary sources from the Archives.

Citation information

In general, you will need:

  • specific information on the document, including the author or creator, item title, page, and date
  • box and file numbers (the containers the item is organized and stored in)
  • repository name-- in our case, it will be the Niagara County Community College Archives

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.

Citing Archival Resources

Niagara County Community College. Henrietta G. Lewis Library. 3111 Saunders Settlement Rd., Sanborn, NY 14132 | 716-614-6786