Both types of sources are important in our research. The information below will help you determine if the source you are examining is a primary or secondary source.
Historical sources are original sources that contain important historical information. Historical sources are also referred to as historical material or historical data. Primary sources are sources from the time period or event being studied that provide first hand information. These sources serve to inform us about history and are used as clues to further our historical research. Historical sources can be found in many forms - diaries, photographs, maps, memoirs, speeches, interviews, newspaper articles from the time of the event, videos, government documents, etc. Primary sources can also be oral histories, memoirs, or autobiographies that were recorded later, but they are accounts provided by witnesses of the event. These sources become historical evidence when they are studied and interpreted to allow us to better understand the past.
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Secondary sources are second-hand information created after the event and by someone who did not experience the event first hand. Secondary sources are works that reflect upon an earlier event or time period by describing, interpreting, or analyzing the information provided in the primary source. Secondary sources use primary sources to analyze and better understand the past. Secondary sources can also vary in format, but are most often scholarly books and articles.
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