History 111 - South Bend-Elkhart

Primary Sources

What is a Primary Source?
A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event.

The Magna Carta 

Some types of primary sources include:

  • Original Documents(excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, newspaper articles reporting the event at the time, autobiographies, official records 
  • Creative Works: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art 
  • Relics or Artifacts: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings

Examples of primary sources include:

Magna Carta
Films of Leni Riefenstahl
A journal article reporting NEW research or findings 
Letters of Heloise and Abelard
Newspaper articles published at the time
Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl

Secondary Sources

What is a Secondary Source?
A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them.

Some types of secondary sources include:
Textbooks, magazine and journal articles, histories, criticisms, commentaries 

Examples of secondary sources include:
A journal/magazine article which interprets or reviews previous findings 
A history textbook 
A book about the economic aspects of the Silk Road

Discover Primary Sources

• In the advanced search mode, enter "primary source" in a search box and select SO Journal Title/Source from the drop down menu.  

• In the next search box, enter your subject.  

• Primary documents are distinguished by their own icon.

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