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California Studies

This is a guide developed to help students working on California research topics

What is a Primary Source?

Finding Primary Source Content from Historical Newspapers, Documents, Correspondence, Etc.

Examples of Primary Sources

Primary sources are first-hand accounts of an event or time in history that has yet to be interpreted by another person.

Examples of primary sources include:

  • diaries, journals, letters, interviews, speeches, memos, manuscripts and other first-person accounts
  • memoirs and autobiographies
  • official records such as government publications, census data, court reports, police records
  • minutes, reports, correspondence of an organization or agency
  • newspaper and magazine articles written during the time of the event
  • photographs, paintings, film and television programs, audio recordings which document an event
  • research such as opinion polls which document attitudes and thought during the time of an event
  • artifacts such as objects, tools, clothing, etc. of the time period or eve+

Examples of Secondary Sources

‚ÄčSecondary sources are scholarly monographs or articles that are based on primary source data and analyze, critique, report, summarize, interpret, or restructure that data. They can also be based on a reading of other secondary sources or a combination of primary source data and secondary sources.

Examples of secondary sources include:

  • reference books such as encyclopedias, bibliographies, handbooks, etc.
  • reviews
  • textbooks
  • most scholarly books
  • most journal and magazine articles

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