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History 132

Primary vs. Secondary vs. Tertiary Sources

The video below helps to explain the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources.

Imagine Easy Solutions. (2014, June 2). Understanding Primary & Secondary Sources. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/pmno-Yfetd8

Primary vs. Secondary vs. Tertiary Further Explained

Primary Sources

Direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, person, or work of art.

Primary sources may include:

  • legal documents
  • eyewitness accounts
  • letters
  • diaries
  • speeches
  • photographs
  • statutes
  • newspaper articles
  • political cartoons
  • and sermons.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources.

Secondary source materials may include:

  • books or movie reviews
  • articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate someone else's original research

Tertiary Sources

Tertiary sources contain information that has been compiled from primary and secondary sources. Tertiary sources include almanacs, chronologies, dictionaries and encyclopedias, directories, guidebooks, indexes, abstracts, manuals, and textbooks.

Tertiary source materials may include:

  • almanacs
  • chronologies
  • dictionaries
  • encyclopedias
  • directories
  • guidebooks
  • indexes
  • abstracts
  • manuals
  • textbooks

Developed via: https://library.ithaca.edu/sp/subjects/primary (opens in new window)