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COM 242: New Communication Technologies & Moral Panic

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

         Newspaper icon                                                     Microphone and speech bubble                                                          Diary

primary source is a source that contains first-hand accounts and/or information about a specific event from the time in which that event occurred.

primary source can be:

  • correspondence / letters
  • diaries
  • interviews
  • personal narratives
  • pamphlets
  • speeches
  • historical newspapers / accounts from the time an event occurred

(Icon from Freepik) 

      Stack of papers                                                             Open book                                                              Computer and tablet icon

secondary source is a source that is about a specific event but was created after that event has taken place.

secondary source can be:

  • a book, or article discussing a specific event and/or topic after the fact
  • a book, or article that gives an overview or survey of a specific event or time period
  • biography
  • critique of a particular work and/or event
  • reviews of related studies and/or works

To search for booksarticles and more - one option is to start with the Quick Search tool, which brings together results from multiple databases + the book catalog:

From the results, select different sources types of isolate "primary" or "secondary" sources such as news, booksarticles and more:

Through the Library you can access a few primary source collections such as:

For more information about primary sources, take a look at our Primary Sources in History Research Guide

Primary Sources Video

(Video Credit: Primary vs. Secondary Sources by HistoryVideos100)