Historical primary sources are artifacts in a variety of forms -- print, visual, oral, media, physical objects -- that provide first-hand knowledge and evidence of something. They bring you directly to the time and place being studied but can only tell one part of the story. Scholarly consideration involves putting the source into its historical context and connecting it to other primary and secondary sources.
When Studying a Culture or Time Period:
The definition of a primary source varies by discipline and context. In literature and philosophy your main primary source is the text you are analysing, whereas in music primary sources are the scores, repertoire and performances along with the historic sources. In many fields such as the sciences and psychology, primary sources are the published results of research studies, experiments, clinical trials, as well as patents, technical reports and conference proceedings. If in doubt Ask Us or contact your Subject Librarian
Before searching for primary sources it can be helpful to use Background Reference Resources to identify specific events or people pertaining to your topic, then you can investigate these in the Primary Source Databases.
Reference sources can also be a shortcut to finding important primary and secondary sources on your topic.
|Generally speaking, secondary sources tend to be works that use primary sources and other secondary sources to evaluate topics or phenomena. Also known as scholarly or Peer-Reviewed Sources
|Tertiary sources are Background Reference Resources such as encyclopedias, handbooks, manuals or guides