Primary vs Secondary Sources

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This presentation provides a short introduction to the differences between primary and secondary sources. This is aimed at teaching history undergraduates how to use primary sources for their historical research.

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Primary vs Secondary Sources

  1. 1. Primary vs. Secondary Sources Chella Vaidyanathan History, Political Science, U.S. Govt. &International Docs Librarian University of Miami Libraries, Coral Gables, FL
  2. 2. What are Primary Sources? Primary sources are:  Original first hand accounts of historical incidents  Invaluable because they give an exact account of a particular historical event as and when it occurred  Usually written/created by an individual who either was involved in or witnessed the historical event
  3. 3. What are Primary Sources? (continued) Primary sources are:  Examples include letters, diaries, speeches, interviews, a utobiographies, poems, newspaper articles, treaties, government documents, etc.  Visual resources such as photos, maps, posters, original artwork, and pamphlets are also primary sources
  4. 4. Examples of Primary Sources Here are a few examples of primary sources from the Library of Congress’ collections which have been uploaded on the Flickr Commons
  5. 5. What are Secondary Sources? Secondary Sources:  Offer an interpretation or analysis of the primary source materials  Second hand accounts of historical events  Examples of secondary sources are articles, biographies, books, textbooks, reports on events, etc.
  6. 6. Tutorials for Learning and Practice Here are some tutorials for your practice. Try these and they will help you to better understand the differences between primary and secondary sources  How to Distinguish between Primary and Secondary Sources (UCSC) – http://library.ucsc.edu/ref/howto/primar ysecondary.html  Primary and Secondary Sources (UConn) – http://www.lib.uconn.edu/instruction/tut orials/research/HTML/Basics/basic03.ht m
  7. 7. Tutorials for Learning and Practice (Continued)  What are Primary Sources (Univ. of Washington) – http://www.lib.washington.edu/uwill/resea rch101/Images/primary.swf  What are Primary Sources (Univ. of Arizona) – http://dlist.sir.arizona.edu/617/01/index.ht ml  Primary Sources Tutorial (UCI) – http://www.lib.uci.edu/tutorial/?page=intr oduction_to_primary_sources  Using Primary Sources in your Research (MSU) – http://www2.lib.msu.edu/exhibits/primeso urce/

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