Using Primary Resources
What is a Primary Source?
A Primary Source is an original source created at a specific time of interest, it is original research, opinion, or documentation.
What is a Secondary Source?
A Secondary Source is written about a primary source. It is interpretation, discussion, or opinion about an original source.
Examples of Primary and Secondary Sources
Florence Thompson with two of her children as part of the "Migrant Mother" series by Dorothea Lange
Gordon, Linda. Dorothea Lange: The Photographer as Agricultural Sociologist. The Journal of American History, Vol. 93, No. 3 (Dec., 2006), pp. 698-727
Hurt, R. Douglas. The Dust Bowl: An Agricultural and Social History. Chicago: Nelson-Hall 1981.
Primary SourceMartin Luther King Jr.'s speech, "I Have a Dream."
Secondary SourceAlvarea, Alexander. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream": The Speech Event as Metaphor. Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Mar., 1988), pp. 337-357.
Primary SourceColdplay's Album "Viva La Vida
Secondary SourceHermes, Will. Vive La Difference!. Rolling Stone, June 26, 2008. Issue 1055, p73-74.
Primary SourceKleinfield, N. R., "U.S. Attacked; Hijacked Jets Destroy Twin Towers and hit Pentagon in Day or Terror" New York Times. September 12, 2001
Secondary SourceGreene, Jacqueline Dember, The 2001 World Trade Center Attack. Bearport Publishing, 2007.
Primary SourceRuhama Baptist Church Records
Secondary SourceBee, Fanna K. Bee, and Lee N. Allen. Sesquicentennial History: Ruhama Baptist Church 1819 - 1969. Birmingham: Oxmoor Press, 1969.
Other Examples of Primary Resources
- Census Records
- City Directories
- Oral Histories
- Research Studies
Finding Primary Sources on the Web
- Alabama Department of Archives and History
- American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library
- Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy
- EuroDocs: Western European Primary Historical Documents
- Making of America: 19th c. books and magazines (University of Michigan)
- Making of America: (Cornell University)
- National Archives and Record Administration
- Slavery & Abolition in the U.S.: Select Publications of the 1800s
- NewspaperCat - Catalog of Digital Historical Newspapers (University of Florida)