DEFINITION: A Primary Source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. These sources serve as the raw materials historians use to interpret and analyze the past.
They are different from secondary sources, accounts that retell, analyze, or interpret events, usually at a distance of time or place.
Examples of primary sources are:
- Diaries, journals, speeches, interviews, letters, memos, manuscripts, and other papers in which individuals describe events in which they were participants or observers;
- Memoirs and autobiographies;
- Records of organizations and documents produced by agencies of government;
- Published materials are written at the time of the event;
- Photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures, video recordings documenting what happened;
- Artifacts of all kinds; ( such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons) and born-digital items (e.g. emails)
- Research reports in the sciences and social sciences.
Source: Adapted from Primary sources FAU Libraries https://libguides.fau.edu/primary-sources-boca and "Primary Sources on the Web: Finding, Evaluating, Using", American Library Association, January 12, 2015.
http://www.ala.org/rusa/sections/history/resources/primarysources (Accessed September 27, 2020)