Brandel Library

HIST 1000: Empires in History

What are Primary 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.
Author typically provides direct impressions of events on which he or she is reporting. Author typically reports on the impressions and experiences of other people.

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Still confused? Check out the video below that was created by the Hartness Library.