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Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Definition & Examples

An "original" or 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. Some types of primary sources include:

  • ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official record
  • CREATIVE WORKS: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art
  • RELICS OR ARTIFACTS: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings

Examples of primary sources include:

  • Diary of Anne Frank - Experiences of a Jewish family during WWII
  • The Constitution of the United States - American History
  • A journal article reporting New research or findings
  • Weavings and pottery - Native American history
  • Plato's Republic - Women in Ancient Greece