Primary sources are documents, images, recordings, or any other physical objects created during the time period being researched. They are essential to the study of history because they allow a researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during a historical event or time period.
In the field of History, primary sources include (but are not limited to):
- Books written during the period for your topic (e.g. during the 1780s)
- Books written by key participants of an event
- Published collections of correspondence and other personal writings
- Memoirs and reprints of primary source material
- Newspapers from the time (these provide a first rough draft of events)
- Popular magazines from the time (news, fashion, sports, etc.)
- Official government publications from the time
- Manuscript material such as unpublished letters, diaries and organizational and company records
- Photographs, drawings, and other images from the time
- Works of art and artifacts from the time
- Maps from the time
Secondary sources are created by someone who did not personally experience first-hand or participate in the events or conditions being researched. Instead secondary sources interpret and analyzes primary sources.
Some common types of secondary sources in the field of History are:
- Journal articles