Primary Sources v. Secondary Sources

 

Primary Sources

- Anything that came into existence during the period a historian is studying.

- Purist meaning of primary document: no document or tangible source lies behind this document. You cannot go further back to any existing source for this source.

- Reliability-the truth and significance-of the document is not part of the definition of primary source.

- Enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what happened during an historical event or time period.

- Evidence left behind by participants or observers.

Secondary Sources

- Are always written about primary sources.

- Interpret the primary sources.

- Are removed from the original event.

- Are produced by historians to make sense of the past.

- Written by an author who is not an eyewitness or a participant in the historical event.