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History: HIST 102

Primary and Secondary Sources

Where to find Primary Sources

Finding Secondary Sources

What is a primary source?

Primary Sources - provide direct or first-hand information about a time or event, usually a resource from the same time as the event.

Examples include:

  • Daries
  • Letters
  • Newsreel
  • Photos
  • Works of art
  • Audio recordings
  • Speeches
  • Newspapers
  • Government documents

What is a Secondary Source

Secondary Sources - do not have the immediacy of primary sources. They are from after an event, often use primary sources as evidence, and contain information that has been interpreted, reviewed, analyzed, or processed.

Examples include:

  • Textbooks
  • Scholarly articles
  • Documentary films
  • Book reviews
  • Music performances
  • History books

Tips for Searching

Searching for Primary Sources:

  • Choose a relevant starting point, perhaps from the list to the side
  • In Google, in a search will just return results with .edu suffix (i.e. university sites)
  • Use filters in databases to your advantage, i.e. just search for photos
  • Ask a librarian! (My favorite)
  • Use the type of source in your search, i.e. search 'civil war diaries' or 'french revolution letters'
  • Quotation marks search exact phrase - i.e. french revolution could find (how the French helped in the American Revolution) but "french revolution" only finds that exact phrase

Subject Guide

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