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Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources

How to identify and differentiate between the two types of sources.

Natalie Childs

on 11 January 2018

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Transcript of Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources

Newspaper articles from that period
Official records
Creative Works:
Oral Histories
Examples of Primary Sources
Questions to help analyze
the source and determine if its
a primary OR secondary source
Identifying Information Sources
Primary Sources
Secondary Sources

What type of document is it?
When was it created?
Who created it?
Did the creator have first-hand knowledge of the events?
Are they reporting on what others heard or witnessed?
Was the object created during or after the event?
Is the source an analysis, interpretation, or evaluation of events?
So, what are they?
Video & Sound Recordings
Photographs & News Footage
Memoirs & Autobiographies
Original materials (documents or objects).

Provide first-hand accounts of events that are based on facts.

Created or expressed by people who were directly involved in or witnessed events.

Usually written or created close to the event or time period.
What are Primary Sources?
Magazine articles that critique or analyze
General Histories
Second hand accounts & "retellings"
Secondary Sources: Other
Primary Source: Other sources
Example of biography:
Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures from the Archives of The Anne Frank House by Menno Metselaar and Ruud van der Rol

Contains many primary sources, but the book itself is a secondary source.
Secondary Source: Biography
Secondary Sources provide the interpretations, evaluations, or analysis of primary sources.

Secondary Sources are the second hand information produced or written about after an event has taken place.

Second-hand sources of information are created by someone with no first-hand experience or association with the events that you are researching. They discuss someone else’s experiences.
What are Secondary Sources?
Example of memoir:
The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson with Marilyn J. Harran & Elizabeth B. Leyson

Example of autobiography:
Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton
Primary Sources: Memoirs & Autobiographies
Example of video recording:
The Beatles first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964

Example of Sound Recording:
The War of the Worlds performed on October 30, 1938 and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds.
Primary Source: Video & Sound Recordings
Example of diary:
Diary of Anne Frank
The published diary of Anne Frank, a 13 year old Jewish girl and victim of the Holocaust during World War II detailing the events she and her family experienced during WWII.
Primary Sources: Diaries
Example of interview:
Interview with Muhammad Ali after he defeated George Foreman with an 8th round KO on October 30th, 1974.

Recordings & transcripts of interviews are both primary sources.
Primary Source: Interviews
LINK TO LETTERS: http://www.loc.gov/collection/tilton-c-reynolds-papers/about-this-collection/

Example of Letters
Letters written by
Captain Tilton C. Reynolds, a member of the 105th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers (also known as the “Wild Cat Regiment”).

During the war, he sent many letters to his family detailing the events taking place during his tour in the Civil War.
Primary Source: Letters
Example 1: The photographs of the devastation and destruction occurring during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Example 2: The recorded news (live video) coverage and interviews with people about the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina.

They are both primary sources because they were taken during the time of the storm.
Primary Sources:
Photographs and News Footage
Example of a speech:
“I Have a Dream”, Martin Luther King Jr.
Spoken at the Civil Right March at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., August 28, 1963.

Recordings & transcripts of speeches are both primary sources.
Primary Source: Speeches
Provide interpretations or analysis of primary sources.

Contain information about the past that is not based on direct experience. May contain opinions.

Created by someone not directly involved in the event.

Often contain material from primary sources.

Usually in the form of published works or documentaries.
What are Secondary Sources?
I understand!
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