Primary and Secondary Sources
A primary source is something that was created at the time of an event or by someone who was at an event. Examples of primary sources are:
- letters and diaries
- interviews and oral histories and autobiographies
- articles written at the time of the event
- creative works such as paintings and plays
A secondary source is something that analyzes or interprets a primary source. Examples include:
- books, including biographies
- scholarly articles
- articles that interpret an event after it has happened
Understanding the Difference
The 3-minute video below can help clarify. As you watch the video answer the following:
- What are primary sources?
- Write down 4 examples of primary sources:
- Write down 3 examples of secondary sources:
- What do secondary sources do?
- Write down 1 example of something that can be primary or secondary:
- What makes the difference of if that item should be called primary or secondary?
Whether a source is considered primary or secondary depends on the context of its use. When in doubt, talk to a librarian!