In order to analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source, you need a firm understanding of what primary and secondary sources are.
A primary source is a document or physical object created during the time period under study. Creators of primary sources were present during an event or time-period and offer direct evidence about the time period under study.
A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. Creators of secondary sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them.
Review the following types of primary and secondary sources:
Some types of primary sources include:
- ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, and official records
- CREATIVE WORKS: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art
- RELICS OR ARTIFACTS: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings
Some types of secondary sources include:
- PUBLICATIONS: Textbooks, magazine articles, histories, criticisms, commentaries, encyclopedias, biographies
Source: Princeton University: What is a Primary Source?Opens a new window
As you can see from the definition, one aspect of the relationship between primary and secondary sources is that secondary sources analyze and interpret primary sources in order to explain a topic or event. To analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic, you should consider what information is given in each source. Do they contradict each other? Do they corroborate each other? Do they offer additional information on the same topic?
In the next activity, you will read excerpts from primary and secondary sources and analyze the relationship between the two.