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History Students

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What's a Scholarly Source?

Primary vs. Secondary

Historical research involves the use of primary and secondary sources.

A PRIMARY SOURCE is a first hand account, report or original data on or about an event. These sources are often created at or near the time of event. Examples may include:

  • Journals
  • Interviews/transcripts
  • Diaries
  • Art work
  • Speeches
  • Letters and other correspondence
  • Newspapers
  • Data

SECONDAY SOURCE is a second-hand account or interpretation, opinion or analysis of an event. Good secondary sources are based on the interpretation of a wide variety of primary sources. Examples may include:

  • Books
  • Research articles
  • Professional and popular articles
  • Histories
  • Commentaries
  • Encyclopedias
  • Textbooks
  • Statistics
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