How to Define Primary Sources


This is the CSU-Pueblo University Library
Quick Class on How to Define Primary Sources. So why is this worth knowing? Well, primary sources have unique benefits
and drawbacks. How these sources are created is going to
affect how you find them. But, once you have an understanding of this
process… …it’ll help you find better sources for
your research. When it comes to defining primary sources… …it’s helpful to think about how history
gets written. First, an event happens- something takes place-
and people witness that initial event. Those people then create records describing
that initial event… …so these are firsthand accounts. It could be a photograph, a newspaper, a letter-
anything. The important thing is that it was created
by someone who was actually there. From there, others read those firsthand accounts
and interpret them. Those people are now writing history. Then other people will read those interpretations… …and interpret them in new ways, writing
more history. This process goes on… …and on. So when it comes to writing history… …it’s important to recognize that primary
sources comes from direct witnesses. Secondary sources are interpretations of primary
sources. Whenever something is interpretted, the author
is going to add bias; it’s unavoidable. For that reason, good research gets as close
to the original event as possible. To do that, you need to use primary sources. So this has been just a quick overview of
primary sources… …but if you have any questions, please feel
free to ask a librarian.

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