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- Documents, images or artifacts that provide firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning an historical topic under research investigation.
- Original documents created or experienced concurrently with the event being researched.
- Enable researchers to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period.
- First hand observations, contemporary accounts of the event. Viewpoint of the time.
- First-hand observation, analysis or accounts with the events described.
- Document events, people, viewpoints of the time.
- Represent one person's perspective; frequently will be used with secondary/tertiary sources to explore events, eras, etc.
- Be aware of bias of the observer/analyzer that creates the primary source, and also cultural biases of the era in which the primary source was created.
- Reproductions of primary sources remain primary for many research purposes.
- News footage
- Data sets,
- Original research
- Creative works
- Archives and manuscript material
- Photographs, audio recordings, video recordings, films
- Journals, letters and diaries
- Published books, newspapers and magazine clippings published at the time
- Government publications
- Oral histories
- Records of organizations
- Autobiographies and memoirs
- Printed ephemera
- Artifacts, e.g. clothing, costumes, furniture
- Research data, e.g. public opinion polls
- Works that interprets or analyzes an historical event or period after the event has occurred and, generally speaking, with the use of primary sources.
- Note: The same document, or other piece of evidence, may be a primary source in one investigation and secondary in another.
- Works that analyze, assess or interpret an historical event, era, etc., generally using primary sources.
- Offers a review or a critique
- Includes books, journal articles, speeches, reviews, research reports, and more.
- Written after the events that are being researched.
- Note: However, if an individual writes about events that he or she experienced first hand many years after that event occurred, it is still considered a primary source.
- Research studies
- Literary criticism
- Book reviews
Sources that identify, locate, and synthesize primary AND secondary sources.
- Reference works, collections of lists of primary and secondary sources, finding tools for sources.
- Identify and locate primary and secondary sources.
- These include bibliographies, indexes, abstracts, encyclopedias, and other reference resources; available in multiple formats, i.e. some are online, others only in print.
- Note: Be Aware that these categories, i.e. secondary and tertiary, are not mutually exclusive. A single item may be primary or secondary (or even tertiary) depending on your research topic and the use you make of that item.
- Fact books
- Other reference resources; available in multiple formats, i.e. some are online, others only in print.