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GHS 210: Freedom and Movement

How to Cite Your Primary Sources

Our primary source databases include all types of content - images, diaries, posters, buttons, audio, etc. Primary sources are often under copyright, even if they looks like they should be in the public domain. 

Arrow pointing at text to draw attention to itDoes the database provide a citation generator? If so, select the citation style you are using for your text sources and use the citation provided. But note, these generators are not perfect, check the given citation against a citation template.

If no citation suggestion is provided, you will have to create your own citation. Remember - the idea is to provide proper credit for the entity that is providing this for you! It should include these five pieces:

One  Creator Information

You may find that there are multiple people or entities that need to be recognized - for example, you may want to list an artist's name and the name of the museum that owns and makes their work available online.

Two   Source Information

If no title is provided, you can create a description of the material. Other examples include: article title, book title, chapter title, journal name, volume number and issue, or the edition

Three  Publication Information

This includes information like publisher, publishing place, date of publication, format, date accessed, or a permalink (DOI) (for online artifacts). Give credit to the database or repository that holds the materials. You will also need to include the collection name and the holding library.

4 License/Permissions/Copyright

Many of these materials are available via the public domain. If you can spot the words public domain anywhere on the page, that is what you would put into this part of the citation.

You may encounter materials that say they are under copyright, or have "all rights reserved." In these situations, you may still use the items under the Fair Use part of copyright law. You will need to make it clear in your citation that the author retains their rights.

5  "Used under Fair Use"

Most of the materials held in these databases are still under copyright. You are putting them in your project, in limited quantities, for educational purposes. So add the phrase "used under fair use" at the end of your citation to make this clear to your audience.

If you embed the image/media and the embedded content automatically links back to its database page, you do not need to provide additional citation.



Citing Images under Copyright


Creator     Source     Publication

APA Example:

Last name, Initials. (Year). Title of image [format]. Site name. OR Museum, Location. URL.

Evans, W. (1933). Untitled, Cuba [Gelatin silver print]. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. Used under fair use.


MLA Example:

Artist's Last Name, First Name. Title of Work: Subtitle if Any. Year. Location of Work, URL.

Evans, Walker. Untitled, Cuba. 1933. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Used under fair use.


Chicago Example:

Last name, First name. Title of Work. Year. Medium. Location. URL.

Evans, Walker. Untitled, Cuba. 1933. Gelatin silver print. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. Used under fair use.



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