Historical Research

Primary Sources

Primary sources are first-hand accounts of an event or time in history that has yet to be interpreted by another person.

Examples of primary sources include:

  • First person accounts: such as diaries, journals, letters, interviews, speeches, memos, manuscripts, memoirs, and autobiographies.
  • Official records: such as government publications, census data, court reports, police records.
  • Correspondence of an organization or agency: such a minutes, reports.
  • Newspaper and magazine articles, viewed as a whole, during the time of the event.
  • Photographs, paintings, film and television programs, audio recordings which document an event.
  • Research: such an opinion polls which document attitudes an thought during the time of an event.
  • Artifacts: such as objects, tools, clothing, etc. of the time period or event.

Communication through multimedia venues: such as listservs, chatrooms, and electronic journals.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are scholarly books or articles that are based on primary data (and/or other secondary sources)  and analyze, critique, report, summarize, interpret, or restructure that data.

Examples of secondary sources include:

  • Reference books: such as encyclopedias, handbooks, etc.
  • Reviews
  • Textbooks
  • Most scholarly books
  • Most magazine and journal articles