Primary Sources: Primary Sources in our Unique Resources Collections

This Guide explains what primary sources are, why they are important, and how to find and use them.

Primary Sources in the Unique Resources Collections

The Unique Resources Division of the USMA Library is a great place to find primary information sources that provide unique insight into the events or people you are researching. The Special Collections consist of rare, unique, unusual or fragile materials which relate to the mission of the USMA Library and the Academy, or which were created by or donated by a graduate of West Point. The Archives include materials related to the history of the Military Academy, including information about the curriculum over time, application papers, textbooks, information about faculty members and Superintendents, and demerit books, just to name a few of the varied types of materials held here.

These materials do NOT circulate, but arrangements can be made to view them. During the Academic year, you can stop at the Heritage Room on the 3rd floor of Jefferson Hall (JH 314) between 0900 and 1630, and ask a staff member what information might be available on your topic. They will be happy to help you find a relevant primary source.

You can look at some of our primary sources by searching our Digital Collection, which collects and displays items from our unique resources collection that have been digitized. These items include Civil War maps, maps of West Point, Class Albums and Class rings, and historic photographs of West Point.

In addition, many of these resources are catalogued, and can be found when searching the USMA Library catalog for information on your topic. The location designation "SPECIAL COLL" indicates that the item is part of our unique resources collection. If something you find in the catalog has this designation, you can make arrangements to view it by contacting one of the staff members in that division (look them up here), or by stopping by the Heritage Room, JH 314.

Examples of Primary Sources in our Unique Resources Collections

Examples of Primary Sources in our Archives

Examples of Primary Sources in our Digital Collections