Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Information may be presented to you as a primary or secondary source.

Primary source materials are original works recorded at the time of an event. Examples of primary sources include drawings, letters, diaries, research data, films, speeches, songs, and first-person accounts.

Secondary source materials are created by someone either not present when the event took place, or removed by time from the event. Examples of secondary sources include textbooks, journal articles, histories, and encyclopedias.

Mouse over each subject below to see examples of primary and secondary sources.

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Original InfoRM material © 2011 by the Liberty University Jerry Falwell Library. This tutorial incorporates material from SBU Library Research Guide, a tutorial developed by the Stony Brook University Libraries, © 2004, from Inflite, a tutorial developed by IUPUI, © 2003, from Searchpath, a tutorial developed by the Western Michigan University Library, © 2001-2002, and from TILT, a tutorial developed by the Digital Information Literacy Office for the University of Texas System Digital Library, © 1998-2002. This material may be reproduced, distributed, or incorporated, provided that appropriate credit is given.