What is a primary source?
Primary sources are materials that provide first-hand information that is factual, without analysis or interpretation. The accounts may be from the time they occurred or created at a later date by someone with first-hand knowledge; for example, a memoir.
Types of primary source materials may be words, images, or objects.
Some examples are:
- Artifacts like fossils, furnuture, clothing, pottery or jewelry
- Original works of art, literature, or music; e.g., a novel or a painting
- Autobiographies (not biographies)
- Government documents; e.g., laws, presidential papers
- Vital records like birth certificates
- Diaries, letters, interviews, manuscripts
- Personal narratives
- Photographs, postcards, maps
- Published results of clinical trials or experiments
- Newspaper and magazine articles that contain first-hand factual accounts