A primary source (also known as an original source) in the academic study of history is an artifact, document, diary, manuscript, autobiography, recording, or any other piece of information that was generated during the time under investigation. Primary sources are often cited by secondary sources, which are also called reference materials or just references.
Examples of primary sources include letters, journals, reports, memoirs, and photographs. Many historical events have been documented by more than one source, such as eyewitness accounts and official records. The credibility of these sources must be considered when evaluating their content. For example, an eyewitness account of an event may seem very credible to the writer, but may not be believed by others due to issues relating to perception, memory, and bias. Documents such as this one that contain multiple sources within them can be used to verify information found in other sources or supplement incomplete records.
In addition to being part of the historical record, people also create fictional works that use elements from real events. These works are called adaptations or sequels. For example, Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol is an adaptation of the poem "The Christmas Carol" by George Michael. Both pieces deal with a charitable man who visits prisoners on Christmas Day; however, where the poem ends with hope, the book instead ends with sadness as the protagonist realizes how far some people will go to gain money.
A first-hand or contemporary account of an event or issue is referred to as a primary source. Primary sources include oral histories, newspaper or journal articles, memoirs or autobiographies, and memoirs or autobiographies written after the event or time period in issue but providing first-hand experiences. Collections of primary sources are called archives.
After an event has occurred, those who were involved in it can offer their views on what happened. These people are known as secondary sources. They may be authors who have done research on the topic of their own work or others who have quoted or cited documents or sources of information in order to support their arguments.
News reports are often used by journalists as sources for articles they write. Newspaper articles based on direct interviews with key players are considered first-hand accounts because the words of these individuals are given more weight than simply reading from a script. In cases where only news reports are available, journalists can sometimes infer the presence of a first-hand account from specific details in the article. For example, if a news report states that "X said Y about Z" then it can be inferred that X and Y both exist and that Y mentioned Z about X.
Secondary sources are authors who have used information from other authors or records about the same event/issue.
A primary source is a document that has not been edited and was authored by someone who observed a historical event. It is an original document from the time period you are studying, with no footnotes. Primary sources include letters, journals, and reports.
An unpublished manuscript is a written document that has not yet been published. Authors can still change their minds about what information should be included or excluded from their work, and they can also find other reasons why they might want to keep parts of their manuscripts private instead of making them public. For example, an author might want to protect the identity of a person mentioned in a personal note at the end of their manuscript, or they could simply decide later that they want to add more content to the piece.
A unpublished work is a written composition that has not yet been published. To be considered historical evidence, documents must be accurately recorded and available for future reference. Unpublished works cannot be used as evidence because they have not been made public. However, if the author decides to one day publish this work, then it becomes possible evidence.
An untraced document is one that has not been identified as coming from a specific source. These documents may come from reliable individuals but they could also be written by people who wanted to promote themselves or their ideas.
What exactly is a primary source? Documents or artifacts made by a witness or participant in an event are examples of primary sources. They might be firsthand testimony or evidence gathered during the time period you are researching. Archives are a great resource for finding primary sources.
Secondary sources are books written by others that document or analyze information about your topic. Historians often cite secondary sources when writing articles or books about their subjects. Encyclopedias are good resources for finding information on subjects you aren't familiar with. These references provide facts and explanations about topics beyond what can be found in more specialized sources.
Primary sources are the most useful tools for historians because they offer eyewitness accounts of important events. Without these original documents, history would be much harder to write! Archives commonly contain letters, reports, memos, and other official documents from years past. Private papers such as diaries, memoirs, and photographs can provide insights into how people lived their lives at the time of an event.
Objects also make excellent historical sources. Weapons, tools, artworks, objects used in daily life activities, etc. all contribute to our understanding of what life was like in different times periods. Museums and galleries preserve these items for future generations to see.
Finally, scientists rely heavily on primary sources to learn new things about our world.