Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

EAP 1900: Rhetoric & Research Strategies

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Video created by Jessica O'Brien.

Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources

Primary Sources 

Primary sources are first-hand accounts of events or time periods in history. Types of primary sources include:

  • speeches
  • interviews
  • official documents
  • diaries
  • letters 
  • memoirs
  • works of literature
  • articles (newspaper, magazine, journal)
  • government publications
  • pamphlets
  • manuscripts
  • photographs
  • audio/video recordings 
  • objects of material culture, art, etc.

Secondary Sources

A secondary source describes, interprets, evaluates, and/or analyzes primary sources.  A secondary source is at least one step removed from an event or time period.  However, secondary sources may include pictures, quotations, graphs, or data from primary sources with the text.  Types of secondary sources include:

  • biographies
  • dissertations
  • textbooks
  • books
  • articles (magazine, journal)
  • reviews
  • histories
  • criticisms
  • commentaries