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Long Descriptions of images in Guides

Primary v. Secondary Sources


Primary Sources: Original documents created or experienced contemporaneously with the event being researched. They are first-hand observations, contemporary accounts of events, viewpoints of the time. They present original thinking, report a discovery, or share new information.

Secondary Sources: Works that analyze, assess, or interpret an historical event, era or phenomenon, generally utilizing primary sources to do so. They provide interpretation of information, usually written well after the event. They offer reviews or critiques.


Primary Sources Secondary Sources
Diaries Biographical Works
Articles detailing original research Books (except fiction & autobiographies)
Letters Textbooks
Newspaper articles written at the time Commentaries, crticisms
Oral & video recordings Histories
Original documents (e.g., birth certificate, trial transcripts) Articles (depending on the discipline these can be primary)
Photgraphs Literature Reviews
Records of organizations, government agencies (e.g., annual report, treaty, constitution) Magazine and Newspaper Articles (this distinction varies by discipline)
Speeches Dissertations & Theses
Survey Research (e.g., market surveys, public opinion polls)  
Works of art, architecture, literature, and music)  
Data, Statistics, etc.