Primary Source • “First hand accounts” from someone who personally witnessed or experienced an event. • They include artifacts (relics), documents (diaries, newspaper articles), pictures, paintings, poetry, and art from a given time period.
Secondary Sources • “Second hand accounts” (or 3rd or 4th) from someone who did not personally witness or experience an event. • They include textbooks, research books, encyclopedias, articles in books or on a website. • They usually describe, explain or analyze and event.
Questions to Consider • Where did this information come from? • Who is the author? • How does the author know these details? • Was the author present at the time of the event or at the event itself? • What is the author’s perspective? • How might the author’s perspective be different from someone else’s who was present at the same event?
Example • Imagine that you are looking at a diary entry from the revolutionary war. • How might a diary entry from a soldier in the Continental Army differ from a diary entry from a Redcoat soldier?
So What? • Both primary and secondary sources are valuable in our search for historical understanding. • Both types of sources may be subjective based on the author’s point of view. • It is essential to evaluate each source before determining its value.