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Primary Sources: Home

Primary Sources : pictures, documents, letters, maps

What is a Primary source?

Primary sources are records that provide first-hand testimony or evidence of an event, action, topic, or time period. Primary sources are usually created by individuals who directly experience an event or topic, and record their experience through photographs, videos, memoirs, correspondence, oral histories, or autobiographies.

Common Examples of PRIMARY Sources:
Letters, diaries, memoirs, speeches, interviews, photographs, notes, subject files, oral histories, autobiographies, travelogues, pamphlets, newspapers, newsletters, brochures, government documents including hearings, reports and statistical data, military service records, manuscripts, archival materials, artifacts, architectural plans, artistic works, works of fiction, cartoons, music scores, and sound recordings.

University of Texas at San Antonio

What is a Secondary source?

Secondary sources put primary sources in context. They summarize, interpret, analyze, or comment on information found in primary sources. Secondary sources are usually written by individuals who did not experience firsthand the events about which they are writing.

Common Examples of SECONDARY Sources:
Biographies, books, journal articles, commentaries, histories, essays, criticisms, news reports and encyclopedia articles.

University of Texas at San Antonio

Tertiary Sources

Tertiary sources are one further step removed. Tertiary sources summarize or synthesize the research in secondary sources.

For example, textbooks and reference books are tertiary sources.  SUNY Empire State University