Primary vs. Secondary Sources

A primary source is a document or physical object that was written or created during the time one is studying. Primary sources were present during the time period or experience. Many primary sources can be found in the archive at NMU! Some primary sources are:

  • Original documents such as diaries, manuscripts, speeches, letters, interviews, autobiographies and official records.
  • Creative work such as poetry, drama, novels, music, and art.
  • Artifacts like pottery, furniture, buildings

A secondary source is something that interprets and analyzes primary sources. It is a secondhand account of what a different writer has experienced. These sources are removed from the event. Some secondary sources are:

  • Publications such as textbooks, scholastic articles, encyclopedias
  • A work that remarks on an event years after the actual event occurred