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Primary Sources: Home

This guide is designed to connect students with resources that specialize in or include primary sources. Databases require passwords for off campus use. In most cases your RomanNet credentials serve as your password for our subscription products.

Primary Sources:


Are Tertiary Sources a Thing?

Tertiary sources are comprised of information that summarizes or distils what is presented by primary and secondary sources. 

Examples include:

  • Almanacs
  • Bibliographies (sometimes considered secondary)
  • Dictionaries
  • Encyclopedias
  • Guidebooks
  • Textbooks (sometimes considered secondary)

What are Primary Sources?:

Primary sources provide first hand testimony, eye witness accounts, or direct evidence of an event under investigation. Often they are created at the time of the event by those who experienced it, but primary sources also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories created after the fact. Please keep in mind that the most useful primary sources are considered those that were created closest to the time period you are researching.*

Examples include (but are not limited to):

·  Newspaper articles from time of event      ·  Images

·  Diaries                                                       ·  Objects/Artifacts

·  Letters                                                       ·  Scientific Research/Lab Reports

·  Speeches                                                  ·  Data

·  Oral Histories                                            ·  Maps

·  Government Documents           

*This explanation was crafted from the definitions of primary sources provided by the libraries at Yale University, New York University, and the University of Illinois. 

What are Secondary Sources?

Secondary sources are written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, and process primary sources.*

Examples include: 

  • Articles found in scholarly journals (such as JSTOR)
  • Magazine and newspaper articles written after the fact
  • Books (such as standard non-fiction books)
  • Documentaries & Podcasts
  • Websites

*This description is based on those provided by the libraries at Ithaca College and Yale University.