Guide to Archival Collections Research

What is a primary source?

The Health Education Collections of the Elena M. Sliepcevich Centre archived at Morris Library's Special Collections Research Center are examples of primary sources. Books about events in history are termed secondary sources because they are created after the events have passed. In contrast, primary sources are created while the events are taking place. They may be observations from firsthand experience or representative cultural artifacts. Primary sources range from curriculum development materials, syllabae, interviews, correspondence, diaries, and photographs to works of art, clothing, and souvenirs.

How can I use primary sources?

For a helpful introduction to archival research, click HERE.

Exploring primary sources using an inventory of items in a collection called a finding aid can help you choose a research topic or formulate research questions. The Health Education Collections feature letters, teaching materials, curricula, photographs, and other primary sources unique to the work of Elena M. Sliepcevich and her colleagues. In addition to their personal research, the history of School and Public Health professional associations can be traced in their collections from the mid-twentieth century.

After you use the finding aid to identify an interesting Collection item, you can visit Morris Library and take a look at the actual primary source in the Reading Room of the Special Collections Research Center. Selected documents from the Sliepcevich Centre Collections will be available online in the future.

Remember that while primary sources offer the opportunity to form your own ideas about historical events, a primary source represents one person's perspective, naturally reflecting the bias of its creator and the cultural biases of its era. Secondary sources can supplement primary source research by providing a broader perspective of an event or era.

Links to the finding aids for the Health Education collections:

Elena M. Sliepcevich papers, 1919-2008

C. E. Turner Papers from the American School Health Association

Paul D. Sarvela papers, 1982-2012

Judy Catherine Drolet papers, circa 1800-2013

Examples of Health Education primary sources

Cuba, February 23, 2001
Cuba, February 23, 2001
Letter from Bill Clinton to Paul Sarvela, June 1, 1994

Dr. Paul D. Sarvela was a prolific writer and presented papers at many national and international conferences. Consisting of seven boxes of materials, the Paul D. Sarvela papers, 1982-2012 provide an example of what may be found in collections related to university faculty. The first three boxes alone are dedicated just to the journals in which he published his research. The fourth box contains his conference presentations. The fifth box preserves his teaching notes. The sixth box contains other professional materials, and the seventh box features photographs and other memorabilia.

One particularly interesting item found in the sixth box is Dr. Sarvela's handwritten journal of observations while in Cuba during the People to People Exchange Mission in February, 2001.

While not extensive, another folder of interest in Box 6 contains correspondence from politicians regarding health care reform efforts during President Bill Clinton's administration in 1994. These materials document Sarvela's support for health care reform in the context of history.

Citing Primary Sources

Permission to publish, display, or cite SCRC material is provided at the discretion of the SCRC Director. Please be aware that you may need separate permission from the copyright holder in order to publish or display copyrighted material. Charges are associated with publishing and displaying SCRC images; please see the fee schedule for more information.

When citing unique material, please use our preferred citation:

[after identification of item(s)], [Box#], [Collection title], Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

For example, the letter from Clinton to Sarvela should be cited as follows:

Clinton, BillBill Clinton to Paul D. Sarvela, June 1, 1994, Letter, Box 6, Paul D. Sarvela papers, Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.