Primary Source vs. Secondary Source
A primary source is a document that shows direct, immediate or firsthand knowledge of a subject or event. It is a document written at the time or on the scene where an event occurred.
Secondary sources are those writings without direct knowledge of a topic or event. These include biographies, monographs, and general periodical articles. Secondary sources are written by people who did not witness or experience an event but have a great deal of knowledge about the topic. Writers often use primary sources in their writing of secondary sources!
Always do reading in secondary sources before looking for primary sources. Often times, information in secondary sources will lead you to a primary source. For example, an article in a reference book might reference a speech or letter written by the person you are researching.
Primary Sources in the OWHL Catalog
Do a keyword search for your topic and include the words primary source in your search string. For example: when looking for primary sources about Thomas Jefferson you should type Thomas Jefferson primary source into the search box.