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Primary Sources (Wayne College): Home

Primary Sources

Cover art: The constitution with the words We the People
Cover Aart: A Civil war Diary
Medieval swords and armor
Two Roman Coins
Amphora Achilles slaying Penthesilea Ancient Greek Vase Pottery
The  double headed serpent of the Antez
Chinese writing
Chinese foot binding shoes
World War 2 Officers
New York Time front page on the attach on 9-11
picture of lincoln in a Union army camp
A picture of the dead after a battle in the U.S. Civil War
A copy of a slave record
Stalin giving a speech to a crowd
Hitler's papers with signature and stamp

Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Primary sources can provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later. Primary sources are characterized by their content, regardless of whether they are available in original format, in microfilm/microfiche, in digital format, or in published format.

Examples:

  • Historical and legal documents
  • Eyewitness accounts
  • Results of experiments
  • Statistical data
  • Pieces of creative writing
  • Audio and video recordings 
  • Speeches
  • Art objects 

Secondary & Tertiary Sources

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources offer an analysis or a restatement of primary sources. They often attempt to describe or explain primary sources. Some secondary sources not only analyze primary sources, but they also use them to argue a contention or persuade the reader to hold a certain opinion.

Examples:

A journal/magazine article which interprets or reviews previous findings. 
Most books are secondary sources, where authors reference primary source materials and add their own analysis.


Tertiary Sources

Tertiary sources consist of information which is a distillation and collection of primary and secondary sources.

Examples:

Dictionaries
Encyclopedias
Manuals
Guidebooks

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