The Importance of Using Primary Sources

Using Primary Sources, is a new and wide-ranging open access e-textbook from Liverpool University Press, the University of Liverpool Library and the Department of History. We asked Dr Graeme Milne, Senior Lecturer in Modern History and contributor to Using Primary Sources to explain how this revolutionary resource can aid students and academics.

Using Primary Sources

Could you please give a brief outline of your chapter in Using Primary Sources?

Business History touches on a wide range of social, cultural, economic and political issues, and also has a huge base of primary sources for us to explore. The Business History chapter introduces a selection of those sources, from the letters written by merchants in the nineteenth century to the graphic advertising posters of the 1950s. People have been creating and working in companies for centuries, and their lives tell us a great deal about human experiences, all the way from the everyday work of small firms to high finance, globalisation, and multinational enterprises.

Why did you get involved with the resource?

I saw this as a great opportunity to help produce a unique resource. Students embarking on research projects for the first time have a huge range of different sources available to them, but sometimes not enough help in getting started. This is an excellent way to make sources more accessible.

How do you see students and teachers using your chapter and archive material?

There are two main ways to approach the material in the chapter. Students interested in Business History will find a discussion of the field and its sources that will help them focus their research questions. Alternatively, students looking at a particular type of source—advertising posters, government documents or personal correspondence—will see how this can be used to address historical issues more generally.

Do you have any further thoughts on the project?

It will be great to see the project growing to encompass more historical fields, so that the sheer variety of historical research can be revealed through original evidence.

For more information on Using Primary Sources please visit our website


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