HIST 1000: Global Themes in History (Clay)

What Are Primary and Secondary Sources?

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary Secondary
An original, "firsthand" or "eyewitness" account offering an inside view. "Secondhand" information.
Contains new information (new at the time it was created, that is) that has not been interpreted, evaluated, paraphrased, or condensed. Contains information that has been digested, analyzed, reworded or interpreted, and often combines information taken from primary sources and even other secondary sources.
Usually created during (or very close to) the time of the events on which they report. Often written well after the events reported on; may put past information in a historical context.
Authors typically provides direct impressions of events on which they are reporting. Authors typically report on the impressions and experiences of other people.

Digital Collections

What's a Secondary Source?

A secondary source is a work of scholarship that comments on or interprets or analyzes primary sources. The most common secondary sources you'll encounter will be scholarly books and journal articles. 


Library Catalog

Often collections of primary sources will be gathered and printed in books. You can search for these in the Brandel library catalog (just NPU's library) or in the I-Share catalog (university libraries throughout Illinois). 

To search for primary sources in a library catalog, add a keyword for the type of source you're looking for to your search. For example, "letters" or "photographs." If you're not sure what types of primary sources might be out there, try search terms like "sources" or "documents."

The Brandel catalog provides access to the books and other media that we own or have access to digitally.

I-Share includes 89 colleges, universities, and research libraries in Illinois.

WorldCat includes most major libraries around the world, including Brandel and the I-Share libraries, but also includes those libraries not in the I-Share consortium.