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Abstract

The importance of primary source materials to scholarship is undeniable. Primary source materials can verify or contradict information accepted as true in history books and other secondary sources. They can tell the whole, or at least more complete, story of events. Unlike secondary sources, primary source materials offer first-hand accounts from the past, bringing history closer and making it feel more real. It can even be argued that primary source materials are less susceptible than published texts to the loss or misinterpretation of information over time in subsequent edition revisions. In particular among primary source materials, manuscripts such as diaries and letters offer glimpses into history where historic figures are untainted and unskewed by the biographers and scholars who interpret them. Unpublished manuscripts have not usually been censored or edited to reflect modern thoughts, beliefs, or politically correct views the way secondary sources often are.

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