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HWST 273 - Tattoo Traditions of Polynesia: Primary Sources

Primary Source Example

Captain Cook's Endeavour Journal 1768-1771, on display in the National Library of Australia.

Primary & Secondary... What's the Difference?

Primary Sources in a nutshell

  • Original object or document written or created during time under study
  • Raw material or first-hand information
  • Examples: historical and legal documents, eyewitness accounts, interviews, autobiographies, journals, newspapers

Secondary Sources in a nutshell

  • Documents that interprets and analyzes primary sources
  • Examples: textbooks, magazine articles, histories, encyclopedias

Journals with Primary Sources

Early journals, especially ones from the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland have primary sources about tattoo traditions in Polynesia. 


This journal has changed names over the years. For a listing of the names, and places that it can be found, please look here:

Early Explorers' Accounts

Digital Libraries

Many early explorers' accounts may be available in full-text through one of these digital libraries.

Pacific Island Theses

You can find references to primary sources in many theses written about the Pacific. Click the link below to check them out.

Bishop Museum

The Bishop Museum has published many ethnography and anthropological reports on a variety of Pacific Island cultures. Many of these reports are available full-text in the website linked below.

Windward Community College Library • 45-720 Keaʻahala Rd. • Kāneʻohe, HI 96744
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