What are Primary and Secondary Sources?

Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary Sources


Original accounts of events are called primary sources, because they are the first evidence of something happening or said.

Primary sources are created at the time of an event, or very soon after something has happened.

THe following can be primary sources:

  • Diaries
  • Letters
  • Photographs
  • Art
  • Maps
  • Video
  • Sound recordings
  • Interviews
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines

Secondary Sources

Second-hand published accounts are called secondary sources.
Secondary sources are created after primary sources and they may talk about primary sources.

The following can be secondary sources:

  • Biographies
  • History and Social Studies Textbooks
  • Published stories
  • Movies of historical events
  • Art
  • Music recordings
  • Books
  • Encyclopedias
  • Dictionaries


How do you know if your source is a primary source?
Ask yourself the following questions about your source.

What: What is your source?
Who:Who created the source?

When was the primary source created?

Where:Can you tell where the primary source was created?
Why:Why was the primary source created?