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HIST 180 - US History until 1865

Key Concepts

Primary sources

A primary source is an original document containing firsthand information about a topic. Primary sources are the direct evidence or first-hand accounts of events without secondary analysis or interpretation. A primary source is a work that was created or written contemporary with the period or subject being studied.

  • Diaries
  • Interviews
  • Letters
  • Original works of art
  • Photographs
  • Speeches
  • Works of literature
Secondary sources

A secondary source contains commentary on or discussion about a primary source. The most important feature of secondary sources is that they offer an interpretation of information gathered from primary sources.

  • Biographies
  • Dissertations
  • Indexes, abstracts, bibliographies (used to locate a secondary source)
  • Journal articles
  • Monographs

Websites about Primary and Secondary Resources