What is a primary source?

Primary sources provide direct evidence of historical events and are actual records that have survived from the past. Primary sources are written or created during the time period being studied, or by a person directly involved in the event and offer an inside view of a particular event or time period. These materials include letters, maps, speeches, diaries, newspaper articles from the time, oral history interviews, documents, photographs, artifacts, postcards, or anything else that provides first-hand accounts about a person or event.

A Secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources and is a second-hand account of a topic that someone else has witnessed. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Some examples are journal and magazines articles, encyclopedias, and books. When you create a research paper, documentary, report, or some other type of project using primary sources, you are creating a secondary source!