What are Primary Sources:
"Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories. Primary sources may include letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, memoirs, documents produced by government agencies such as Congress or the Office of the President, photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures or video recordings, research data, and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons. These sources serve as the raw material to interpret the past, and when they are used along with previous interpretations by historians, they provide the resources necessary for historical research.”
From Using Primary Sources on the Web published by the History Section of the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association.
What are Secondary Sources?
"Secondary sources are accounts of the past created by people writing about events sometime after they happened (this could be a few years later or centuries later). In other words, secondary sources are what historians … create. Historians' creations usually come in the form of books and journal articles. They are an analysis of past events and times based on evidence provided by primary sources which are cited in numerous footnotes and in a bibliography."
From For Students: History Day Research - University of Washington Libraries
Another good website on primary sources:
Library Research: Finding Primary Sources - University of California, Berkeley
Evaluating Primary Sources
Using Primary Sources - Library of Congress
DoHistory Website - created by The Center for Film Studies, Harvard University
Primary and Secondary Sources for the Humanities and Social Sciences - SUNY University at Albany
Primary and Secondary Sources for Science - SUNY University at Albany
Where To Find Primary Sources:
Repositories of Primary Sources U of Idaho
American Memory Library of Congress
Primary Sources on the Web UC Berkeley
Primary Documents in American History Library of Congress
or, using your favorite search engine, try searching the following terms:
If you are looking for documents about a specific event or person, try searching by combining one of the above terms with the name of the event or person.