Answered By: Anthony Anderson
Last Updated: Jul 07, 2022     Views: 30198

I. Primary Sources - original documents or artifacts created during the time period being studied. They often include first-hand or eyewitness accounts or have an inside view of a particular event.

Original Documents include:  advertisements, artwork, autobiographies, diaries, government documents (bills, laws, congressional hearings, etc.), interviews, letters, newspaper articles, official records, oral histories, photographs, posters, raw research data, speeches, etc.


[Image of the Declaration of Independence]

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For more in depth information on primary sources and where to find them see our Primary Source Research Guide

II. Secondary Sources - interpret or analyze primary sources.


III. Tertiary Sources - provide overviews of a topic and synthesize information from other primary and secondary sources. Examples include: textbooks, encyclopedia articles, and Wikipedia.




Distinguishing between these three types of sources will vary according to context and situation. For example, if you are analyzing how African American history was depicted in middle school textbooks in the 1980s, then the textbooks would be considered a primary source rather than a tertiary source.

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