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Primary Sources

Primary Source materials are quite often the “building blocks” upon which Secondary Source materials are based.

Primary Sources are original, first-hand observations or accounts of events or experiments. They may include books, journal or newspaper articles, audio-visual materials, many government documents, statistical data, and archival materials.

Secondary Sources are most often interpretations or analyses of primary source information. Most secondary sources found in libraries are in the form of books, journal articles, and reference materials.

Examples of Primary Sources:

  • Audio recordings of a speech or oral history
  • Autobiographies, diaries, or letters
  • Certain government documents, such as congressional hearings or agency reports
  • Interviews
  • Journal articles which report first hand observations
  • Newspaper accounts of events
  • Photographs or moving images of an event
  • Records of an organization, often kept in Archives

Examples of Secondary Sources:

  • Biographies
  • Most books, unless they are first hand observations of events or experimental research
  • Most journal articles, unless they are first hand observations of events or experimental research
  • Newspaper editorials
  • Reference materials, such as encyclopedias and handbooks

How to Find Primary Sources: