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"Artzy" Art during World War II


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Primary Vs. Secondary Sources


Primary Sources

Primary sources are the "materials on a topic upon which subsequent interpretations or studies are based, anything from firsthand documents such as poems, diaries, court records, and interviews to research results generated by experiments, surveys, ethnographies, and so on."*

Primary sources are records of events as they are first described, without any interpretation or commentary. They are also sets of data, such as census statistics, which have been tabulated, but not interpreted.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources, on the other hand, offer an analysis or a restatement of primary sources. They often attempt to describe or explain primary sources. Some secondary sources not only analyze primary sources, but use them to argue a contention or to persuade the reader to hold a certain opinion.

Examples of secondary sources include: dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, and books and articles that interpret or review research works.

Examples of primary and secondary sources:

 

Primary Source

Secondary Source

Art

Original artwork

Article critiquing the piece of art

History

Slave diary

Book about the Underground Railroad

Literature

Poem

Treatise on a particular genre of poetry

Political Science

Treaty

Essay on Native American land rights

Theatre

Videotape of a performance

Biography of a playwright



*From Hairston, Maxine and John J. Ruszkiewicz. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers. 4th ed. New York : HarperCollins College Publishers, 1996, pg. 547.



If you have any questions about primary or secondary sources, please contact one of our Reference/Information Desks, or email Ask-A-Librarian.