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What are primary and secondary sources?

Last Updated: Sep 20, 2013  |  144 Views

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Primary Sources 

Primary sources are first-hand accounts of events or time periods in history. Types of primary sources include:

  • speeches
  • interviews
  • official documents
  • diaries
  • letters 
  • memoirs
  • works of literature
  • articles (newspaper, magazine, journal)
  • government publications
  • pamphlets
  • manuscripts
  • photographs
  • audio/video recordings 
  • objects of material culture, art, etc.

Secondary Sources

A secondary source describes, interprets, evaluates, and/or analyzes primary sources.  A secondary source is at least one step removed from an event or time period.  However, secondary sources may include pictures, quotations, graphs, or data from primary sources with the text.  Types of secondary sources include:

  • biographies
  • dissertations
  • textbooks
  • books
  • articles (magazine, journal)
  • reviews
  • histories
  • criticisms
  • commentaries

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