Primary sources are original records, or first hand accounts of events and can be letters, personal journals, diaries, interviews, memoirs, files, reports, maps, photographs, films, videos or sound recordings, news transcripts, original research, scientific data, opinion polls, government documents, or surveys. The information they contain is original and has not been rewritten or reinterpreted by someone else.
Secondary sources, often produced sometime after an event has occurred, interpret, analyze, and comment on primary sources. They are often books, interpretive articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers, reviews, etc.
However the category of primary or secondary is often determined by how the source is being used. Often newspapers are considered secondary sources as journalists report, analyze, and interpret events and the experience of others. Newspapers can also be used as primary sources. If you are researching how American attitudes on welfare spending have changed during the past twenty years, newspaper editorials can serve as primary sources of public opinion. Librarians and your instructor can help you identify primary and secondary sources for your projects.
Special Collections at WU