Answered By: Liz Svoboda
Last Updated: Oct 23, 2018     Views: 2523

Primary sources are documents, physical objects, and data that were created by a person experiencing an event or conducting an experiment. They are often created while the event is occurring or shortly afterwards.

Some examples of primary sources are

  • diaries and letters
  • academic articles reporting NEW data and findings, that is, reporting original research
  • works of literature (poems, novels, plays, etc.)
  • works of fine art (paintings, sculpture, pottery, music etc.)
  • official records from a government, judicial court, or company
  • maps
  • oral histories
  • speeches
  • autobiographies
  • fictional films and documentaries

Newspaper articles that report on a recent event can be primary sources, but articles that rehash previous events are not primary sources, unless they add new information to the story.

For more information see our guides:

Identifying Information Sources:

Primary Sources for Historical Research:


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