Using Primary Sources

What is Using Primary Sources?

Using Primary Sources is an Open Access teaching and study resource that combines rare archival source materials with high quality peer-reviewed chapters by leading academics. Covering major themes within the medieval, early modern and modern periods, such as religion, ideas, conflict and class, this unique and easy to access e-textbook provides students with the opportunity to examine rare and original material in detail on their computer, tablet or phone as well as learn how they can integrate the source material in their own written work.

With more exciting themes in development, Using Primary Sources will continue to grow, providing students and teachers in the humanities with an invaluable free resource that teaches students how to use primary source material such as letters, photographs, legal documents, pamphlets, diaries and audio recordings in their studies.

Edited by Dr Jonathan Hogg, Senior Lecturer in Twentieth Century History at the University of Liverpool, with 25 academics contributing, this project is a collaboration between Liverpool University Press, the University of Liverpool Library and JISC, and is available for free on Manifold.

Access Using Primary Sources on Manifold.

What do students think?

"I’d never previously considered something like a river as a historical artefact! But this resource has allowed me to revisit and absorb new theoretical approaches without having to wade through pages of historiographical jargon, which can be overwhelming."
"I also like that you can rate, comment, and interact with other students and the writers themselves, providing a forum for things like seminar discussions."
- Harry Roberts, University of Liverpool (Read more of his student testimonial here)

Such an archive has a multiplicity of uses, but I found ‘Using Primary Sources’ most applicable when composing my first academic poster and illustrated essay. I had never needed visual evidence in a piece of assessed work before and ‘Using Primary Sources’ provided a platform full of high resolution images of both text and illustration. These sources were also easy to reference – not only were all the texts I looked at scanned cover to cover, but the site provides a varied list of citations in different referencing systems for each text.
- Thomas Kaye, University of Liverpool

How to access Using Primary Sources:

Using Primary Sources can be accessed via a computer, tablet or mobile at

Follow Using Primary Sources on Twitter @LivUniSources to find out when new themes are added to the e-textbook and if you have any questions or feedback about Using Primary Sources, then please contact Alison Welsby.