This is the "Primary vs. Secondary Sources" page of the "Teaching and Learning with Primary Sources" guide.
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Teaching and Learning with Primary Sources  

Definitions and examples of primary sources as well as primary sources collections and lesson plans.
Last Updated: Oct 2, 2012 URL: http://auburn.wednet.libguides.com/primarysources Print Guide RSS Updates

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Primary Sources

Primary sources can take many forms. Sometimes a source can be used as either a primary source or a secondary source dependent on the subject under study and how the researcher intends to use the source.

ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS (excerpts or translations acceptable):

  • diaries
  • recollections (example: memiors)
  • manuscripts
  • letters
  • photographs
  • maps
  • films
  • sound recordings
  • interviews
  • newpapers
  • magazines
  • advertisements
  • speeches
  • laws
  • goverment records
  • court cases

CREATIVE WORKS:

  • poetry
  • drama
  • music
  • works of art
  • novels

RELICS OR ARTIFACTS:

  • furniture
  • clothing
  • buildings and structures
  • pottery

Primary sources are not necessarily free from bias. A source may actually be inaccurate. It may be wanting for authority as well. Think like a historian when interacting with primary sources.

 

Is It or Isn't It?

How can I be sure I am using a primary sources?
Trying to figure out whether something is a primary or secondary source can be difficult at times.  For tips, visit this useful website from Yale University. It will help in figuring out such things as whether a book is a secondary or primary source.

 

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