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History Primary Sources: Primary & Secondary Sources

This guide will assist you in finding, evaluating, and citing primary sources.

Primary and Secondary Sources

What are primary sources? Primary sources may include letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, government documents produced by government agencies, photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures, video recordings, research data and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons. ALA. "Using Primary Sources on the Web."

Examples:

  • Diary of Anne Frank - Experiences of a Jewish family during WW II
  • The constitution of Canada - Canadian history
  • A journal article reporting new research or findings
  • Weavings and pottery - Native American history
  • Plato's Republic - Women in Ancient Greece

What are secondary sources?

Secondary sources interpret and analyse primary sources that may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them.

Examples:

  • Publications: textbooks, magazine articles, histories, criticisms, commentaries, encyclopedias
  • A journal/magazine article which interprets or reviews previous findings
  • A history textbook
  • A book about the effects of WW I

http://www.princeton.edu/~refdesk/primary2.html

Subject Guide

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Patsy Kiros
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