Primary sources are documents, images or artifacts that provide firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a historical topic under research investigation. Primary sources are original documents created or experienced contemporaneously with the event being researched. Primary sources enable researchers to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period. Some specific examples of primary sources include personal diaries, letters or correspondence, autobiographies and newspaper articles.
Secondary sources are works that analyze, assess or interpret an historical event, era, or phenomenon, generally utilizing primary sources to do so. Secondary sources often offer a review or a critique. Secondary sources can include books, journal articles, speeches, reviews, research reports, and more. Generally speaking, secondary sources are written well after the events that are being researched.
Tertiary sources are sources that identify and locate primary and secondary sources. These can include bibliographies, indexes, abstracts, encyclopedias, and other reference resources; available in multiple formats, i.e. some are online, others only in print.
What are primary resources? - UCI libraries http://www.lib.uci.edu/how/tutorials/primary-sources/introduction/what.html (accessed 10/19/2011, 2011).
Use reference books to:
Reference works are a good place to start, but typically should not be cited in your research. The only exception is when reference works contain primary and secondary sources (like collections of documents and essays). Reference books are tertiary sources that will lead you to primary and secondary, but also sometimes contain photocopies of primary source documents/photos.
Use General Interest books:
Uploaded to YouTube by minnesotahistory on Jul 29, 2011.
Often students come in to the Library with assignments to do research in primary source materials, but find that they're not quite sure what a primary source is. This video provides a brief discussion of primary and secondary sources.
Use journal articles to find in-depth information on a specific topic. They are usually more current than books. Articles from academic journals are often peer reviewed.
Databases let you search for articles on your topic and will tell you in which volume of which journal it's published.
Sometimes a database will actually have a copy of the article for you to view online. This is called full-text, and it's a beautiful thing.
Other databases just tell you where to find the article, but don't have a digital copy to give you.
Newspaper Articles generally:
Newspapers LibGuide - help locating and searching historical newspapers available at Spiva Library.
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