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History 281 - American History: Primary vs. Secondary Sources
This course guide for HIST 281 will assist students in finding available library resources in print and online.
A PRIMARY SOURCE is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. Some types of primary sources include:
ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, oral histories, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official record, newspaper ads/stories
RELICS OR ARTIFACTS: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings
Examples of primary sources include:
Diary of Anne Frank - Experiences of a Jewish family during WWII
The Constitution of Canada - Canadian History
A journal article reporting NEW research or findings
Weavings and pottery - Native American history
Plato's Republic - Women in Ancient Greece
A SECONDARY SOURCE interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. Some types of seconday sources include: