History 022 (Mercado): Welcome to the Library!: Primary vs Secondary

Research Project Spring 2018

Primary Documents

Why use primary documents?

Primary documents offer firsthand accounts and observations of events and issues in history in which the author of the document had a role.

For example:

A) unpublished letters, notes, speeches, etc.

B) published, edited volumes (books) or autobiographies

Question: Primary documents are always correct TRUE/FALSE?

note: firsthand accounts can show bias, prejudice, or self-promotion--you should always remain skeptical of any evidence you uncover

Question: A physical artifact is an example of a primary source TRUE/FALSE?

note: primary sources include physical objects created during the time under study or observation (e.g., music, art, poetry, etc.)

Key Words to use for finding primary sources:

  • sources
  • correspondence
  • personal narratives
  • photographs
  • diaries

For example: mexican americans sources/personal narratives


Secondary Sources

Why use secondary sources?

A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the actual event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes, or graphics of primary sources in them.

For example: books, encyclopedias, articles in journals, magazines and newspapers, reviews and criticisms

Question: A book about slavery is an example of a secondary source TRUE/FALSE

Question: An original art work is an example of a secondary source TRUE/FALSE