Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary Sources

Primary sources are original materials that have not been evaluated or interpreted.

They could be documents from the time period that is being studied (such as newspaper accounts from WWII), raw data (such as census statistics), or articles/reports that present research methodology and detailed findings from original research studies.

Examples

  • diaries
  • interviews
  • letters
  • photographs
  • speeches
  • original documents
  • newspapers, articles, books, audio/video recordings, etc. from the time period being studied
  • works of literature
  • statistical data
  • survey research
  • empirical research articles/reports

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources interpret and evaluate primary sources. They also present summarized accounts of previous research. They are used to help substantiate your position.

Examples

  • books
  • dissertations
  • biographies
  • indexes, abstracts, bibliographies
  • journal articles
  • commentaries
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