The terms primary (first hand) and secondary (second hand) refer to the degree to which the author of the material experienced the event being described.
Primary sources are materials written by someone who personally experienced or witnessed the event being described. These original documents are not about another document or account, nor are they an interpretation of another source.
Secondary sources are interpretations and evaluations of primary sources. They are not direct evidence, but commentary and discussion of evidence. Secondary source materials interpret and draw conclusions about the events reported in primary sources.
When evaluating primary or secondary sources, determine how the author knows the details being described.
Here are some examples:
These resources can all be accessed through the links below or through the Library website by following these steps.
You can also find primary sources through a variety of websites. Check out Primary Sources on our History LibGuide to find out more!