Skip to Main Content
George Mason University Infoguides | University Libraries
See Updates and FAQss for the latest library services updates.

Art History

Scholarly resources for study and research in Art History

Primary sources provide first-hand accounts of events, or are documents/artifacts of those events.

These are sources that you will analyze or interpret as part of your research.

Finding Primary Sources

Where do I find primary sources?

Primary sources are often reproduced in books, or digitized and available through libraries or museums directly. Others require visiting a physical archive.

  • In library catalogs or databases, search with your main topic + the type of source you want (e.g., "michelangelo vasari letters")
    • See the bolded terms below for examples of source types

What are examples of primary sources in art history?

letters or correspondence btw. artists, patrons, dealers, etc. exhibition reviews or catalogs (documenting works shown at an exhibit)
records of auctions, sales, or payments maps or travelogues
oral histories, memoirs, or autobiographies paintings, photographs, prints, fashion, furniture, and other original objects

Primary sources in art history are often reproduced or made digitally available in books or digital collections. Below are a few places you can search, but you might need to do a general internet search to find collections for your specific research area.

You can also view more guides to History and Primary Source Research to see primary source collections by time period and geographic region.