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GOVERNMENT: Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Types of Sources

Primary Sources

The Library of Congress describes primary sources as "raw materials of history-original documents and objects which were created at the time under study." Primary sources are original, first-hand, authoritative accounts of an event.

Examples of Primary Sources include:

  • Letters, diaries, journals
  • First hand newspaper reports
  • Speeches, memoirs, autobiographies
  • Original photographs
  • Creative works of plays, paintings and songs
  • Research Data and surveys

 

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources interpret primary sources. They are at least one step removed from the original event or account. It is a secondhand version of events.

Examples of Secondary Sources include:

  • Essays and reviews
  • Textbooks
  • Criticisms and commentaries
  • Articles that discuss events and ideas
  • Documentaries (though they often include photos or video portions that can be considered primary sources).

 

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