Throughout 9 th grade, and in the future, you will hear your teachers say they want you to use primary sources for some of your research. So what’s the difference between primary and secondary sources?
Primary sources are those that get you close as possible to what really happened back in time- they were created at the time of the event being studied, or slightly later by someone who experienced the event themselves. These sources reflect the viewpoints of the event by the people who were there!
Examples of primary sources would be diaries, memoirs, letters, autobiographies, photos,
newspaper articles at the time of the event, speeches, audio and video recordings, advertisements, & posters & artifacts. Primary sources let you feel like you are really there!
Secondary sources are those written after the events. They edit, interpret and analyze the event. These sources are written by people who did not experience the event firsthand
Examples are books, magazine articles, & videos about the event or time. They are easier to read and understand in many cases, but you must be careful to acknowledge that someone has interpreted the event in his own way.
Primary, Secondary & Tertiary sources can be found for nearly any topic. For example, let’s look at the American Civil War. For this event, there are countless primary sources such as letters from soldiers, diaries, posters, & photos. These help us to know how the people living through the war felt, and what they experienced. But there are also numerous secondary sources like books, videos, and magazine articles that interpret and analyze the war to make it easier for us to understand. There are also countless tetriary sources like encyclopedias that give us a good starting point to understand an event by giving an overview of the event and why its importance.
Tertiary sources Written AFTER the event took place and often after secondary sources like books have been written on the topic Provide Factual BACKGROUND info and OVERVIEWS Help identify keywords/search terms & subtopics Best place to begin research