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Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources

Primary Sources are:

  • Documentation for history as it is being made.
  • Information in its original form at the time the event occurred or well after the events in the form of memoirs and oral histories.
  • Material that has not been published anywhere else or put into a context, interpreted, filtered, condensed, or evaluated by anyone else.
  • An account by an eyewitness or the first recorder of an event, in written or other form. Examples include:
    • Diaries
    • Letters
    • Manuscripts
    • Autobiographies
    • Journals
    • Memoirs
    • Interviews
    • Minutes of meetings
    • News footage
    • Newspaper articles written at the time of the event
    • Professor's lecture
    • Original documents such as birth certificates or a trial transcript
    • Dissertation or theses (may also be secondary)
  • Data obtained through original research, statistical compilations or legal requirements. Examples include:
    • Reports or writings of a scientific study
    • Documents produced by government agencies (For example: Congress or the Office of the President)
    • U.S. census records
    • Public records
    • Records of organization
    • Patents
  • Creative works such as:
    • Original works
    • Poetry
    • Music
    • Photography
    • Art
  • Artifacts such as:
    • Pottery
    • Furniture
    • Buildings
    • Ancient roads
    • tools and weapons that serve as raw material to interpret the past