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Finding Primary Sources

A guide for Dr. MacDonald's History 151 and 251 courses.

Primary and Secondary Sources - What's the difference?

Before you can find primary sources, you have to know what they are. This 4 minute video explains the difference.

To recap ... 

  • A primary source proves direct, first-hand evidence of an event, an object, or a person. Primary sources provide facts about an event or time period. 
  • A secondary source is an analysis, evaluation, or interpretation of an event or time period. They interpret or analyze the primary source material.  
  • Here are some examples of primary and secondary sources are:

Primary and Secondary Sources - Examples for History

Primary Secondary
Autobiography, letters, memoir, diary written by an individual A biography about an individual
Transcript of a presidential speech Newspaper commentary about a presidential speech
Text of a court decision Book that analyzes the court decision
A description a protest march by a participant or someone who witnessed it Journal article that analyzes events that led up to the march and the impact of the event 
An official government record and publication A blog post that gives an analysis or commentary about a government publication

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