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HSS 100 - Early Religions: Primary Sources

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Primary Source Types

  • Autobiographies
  • Diaries/Journals
  • Letters
  • Speeches
  • Travel Accounts
  • Messages and Papers
  • Government Documents
  • Magazine/Newspaper Articles
  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
  • Other Non-Text Materials

Primary & Secondary Sources

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!

Primary Sources in Books

Many of the primary sources for this era will come from books. Speeches, letters, stories, oral histories, and other types of primary sources will be reproduced or reprinted within them. Even though the book may have been published recently, those reproduced sources still count as a primary source.

Some of the eBooks and books available on reserve have primary sources within them, so try checking there first.

To find the primary sources within these books, you will need to read carefully. Look for things like block quotes, section headings, and other clues within the text. Just because something is a quote does not mean it is a primary source, so be sure to look for context about the quote.