Primary Sources/Second Sources

Making Sense of Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary sources–sources that are contemporary with a particular time period can come in any form. ¬†These sources might be film, text, archival material–organization documents, personal papers, governmental documents, as well as newspapers, magazines etc . . .

Secondary sources, on the other hand, are books, articles, essays that stem from some kind of evidentiary base, often primary sources.

The main difference, however, is that primary sources are produced during that period under study, so that if you’re writing about the 1950s then your primary sources (excepting oral histories) derive from the 1950s. This also means that books, articles, etc . . . ¬†might be used as primary sources.


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