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Primary vs. Secondary Sources - Library Workshop: Home

Primary Source

• Uses first-person voice
"I saw... I escaped... I believed... We surveyed... We studied..."
• Has original, direct perspective
• Is an original, creative product
• Is a product of its immediate time / era
• Testifies, emotes, expresses

-Letters, diaries, memoirs, speeches
-Oral histories

-Photographs, films
-Government documents
-Art works [novels, poems, paintings, songs, murals, etc.]
-Artifacts [advertisements, posters, pamphlets, clothing, buildings, etc.]

-Original data, original research & case studies
-E-mail, blogs, Tweets

    Secondary Source

    •  Uses third-person voice
    "He saw... She escaped... They believed... They surveyed...
    They studied..."
    •  Has second-hand, indirect perspective
    •  Dependent, derivational product
    •  Produced after some time has passed
    •  Reports upon, analyzes

    -Analytical scholarly articles
    -Analytical essays & critiques

    -Book reviews, music reviews, art reviews
    -News accounts

    Additional Help

    John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
    California State University, Los Angeles
    5151 State University Drive
    Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300