Primary & Secondary Source Examples

Below are some more examples to help you discern the difference between a primary and a secondary source in various disciplines.

Discipline

Primary Source

Secondary Source

Art

  • original artwork (painting, sculpture)

  • article/review critiquing the work

History

  • Letters of a Civil War soldier, written 1862

  • accounts of the attack on Pearl Harbor, published in the New York Times in 1941

  • book about Civil War soldier's experiences, published 2006

  • an article commemorating the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, published in the New York Times in 1991

Literature

  • novel, poem

  • essay or criticism of work

Social Sciences

  • report of an original experiment

  • statistics on juvenile delinquency from the Bureau of Justice

  • Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA)

  • review of several studies on the same topic

  • article about juvenile delinquency

  • article about medicare

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