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ECG 100: Source Types: Primary/Secondary

Ways of classifying sources: scholarly/popular; primary/secondary/tertiary; biased/unbiased; news/editorial

Primary and Secondary Sources

A Primary source is a first hand or eye witness account of an event. A primary sources enables a researcher to get a clear picture of what actually happened during an historical event or a particular time period.

A Secondary source is a source that analyzes, relates, evaluates, or criticizes based on information gathered from primary sources. 

Examples of Primary Sources:  

  • Newspaper articles
  • Letters
  • Manuscripts
  • Diaries and Journals
  • Transcripts
  • Speeches
  • Interviews
  • Memories
  • Documents produced by government agencies such as Congress
  • Photographs
  • Audio Recordings
  • Moving Pictures
  • Research Data
  • Artifacts

Examples of Secondary Sources:  

  • Textbooks
  • Encyclopedias
  • Recently published articles on historical topics
  • Literature Reviews
  • Newspaper editorials or articles reporting on previous findings
  • Biographies
  • Commentaries
  • Books that include analysis, commentary, or criticism

Finding Primary Sources in the Library

Historic Documents Online