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History at Clermont

Your library home for history information and research at Clermont College.

What is a Primary Source?

Primary sources contain first-hand accounts of events or are contemporaneous to a particular happening. As opposed to secondary sources, which tell readers about a thing, primary sources directly represent the thing itself. When it comes to historical research, examples of primary sources can include the following:

  • Photographs/images
  • Letters, diaries, or other correspondence
  • Government documents or legislation
  • Audio or video recordings
  • Artifacts
  • Interviews or other first-hand accounts
  • Contemporaneous writings, including news
  • Contemporaneous literature
  • Art objects

In terms of scientific research, primary sources may include things like:

  • Raw data
  • Scientific papers, reports, or conference proceedings that represent original research

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