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History 111/112 (Western Civilization)

This guide should help students in History 111 and History 112 find the resources needed for annotated bibliographies and research papers.

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

What is a Primary Source?

Primary Sources are materials that contain firsthand accounts of events and that created at the time of the events or later recalled by an eyewitness (note: these items don't have to look "old", they can be transcripts of original material). Examples Include:

  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Government, church and business records
  • Oral Histories
  • Photographs
  • Motion Pictures and videos
  • Maps and land records
  • Blueprints
  • Original Research (can be journal articles) and Data

What is a Secondary Source?

Secondary Sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate someone else's original research. Examples include:

  • Books
  • Magazine and some journal articles (articles with original research data are primary)
  • Documentaries
  • Data Analysis

What is a Tertiary Source?

Tertiary Sources contain information that has been compiled from primary and secondary sources. Examples include:

  • Almanacs
  • Chronologies
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
  • Directories
  • Guidebooks
  • Indexes and Abstracts
  • Manuals
  • Textbooks