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HIST 3301 - Colonial America to c. 1820: Primary vs Secondary Sources

Primary versus Secondary Sources

Primary vs. Secondary Sources:  What is the difference?

Primary sources are accounts recorded by people with immediate access to the information.  Examples of primary sources important in historical research are: newspapers, documents of state, diaries, letters, and accounts by reliable witnesses.

Secondary sources provide indirect exposure, such as books or periodical articles not based on first hand observation of the event, person or place.

Examine the resources available that cover different time periods and historical events:  books, biographies, scholarly journals, newspapers, microform collections, encyclopedias, handbooks, bibliographies, and periodical indexes. 

After your initial exploration, consult with your professor regarding your proposed topic, if necessary.

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Karen Nichols
GL 105C
Mary & John Gray Library