What's a primary source?


A primary source provides firsthand information, direct evidence, or original data on a topic. It is the material on which other research is based. Primary sources tend to be contemporary to the events or conditions under examination, but in some circumstances may be written or created at a later time (e.g. autobiographies, memoirs, or oral histories).

Examples of primary sources include original manuscripts, technical reports, diaries, memoirs, letters, photographs, drawings, posters, film footage, sheet music, interviews, government documents, public records, eyewitness accounts, conference proceedings, works of literature, statistical data, speeches, emails, tweets, and web pages.

The differences between primary and secondary sources can be nuanced and can depend on how a source is being used by a researcher.  Watch the video to get more information on these two types of sources and where their identification can be complicated.


  • Last Updated Jun 06, 2024
  • Views 175
  • Answered By Johanna MacKay

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