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Christian Perspectives: The Modern Age HUM 422: Finding Primary & Secondary Sources

What are Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Sources?

According to the Library of Congress

"Primary Sources are the raw materials of history, original documents and objects which were created at the time."

"Secondary sources are accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience."

"Tertiary sources present summaries or condensed versions of materials, usually with references back to the primary and/or secondary sources."

Finding Primary Sources

According to the Library of Congress "Primary Sources are the raw materials of history, original documents and objects which were created at the time."

Searching the term "primary sources" in the library catalog will not yield many results. Use these terms instead:

  • personal narratives
  • documents
  • speeches
  • memoirs 
  • diaries
  • interviews
  • oral history
  • letters
  • biography
  • Correspondence

Finding Primary Sources

Limiters for primary source documents are available in the EBSCO databases and also in some others like ProQuest. Here is how those options appear:

Secondary Sources

According to the Library of Congress 

"Secondary sources are accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience."

Common Examples of Secondary Sources:

  • Biographies
  • Monographs 
  • Journal Articles
  • Dissertations/Theses
  • Essays
  • Encyclopedia articles