A primary source is a document or record containing firsthand information or original data on an event, object, person, or work of art. Primary sources are usually created by individuals who experienced the event and recorded or wrote about it. Because of this, primary sources usually reflect the viewpoint of the participant or observer.
Examples of primary sources include:
- Original research studies have a hypothesis, methods, results and a discussion/conclusion
- Oral Histories
- Newspapers written at the time of the event
- Official recordings of a business, including financial ledgers and labor files
- Court Cases
- Play or Short story
- Audio or Video recordings
- Census Figures
- Opinion Polls
Determining whether or not something is a primary source depends on the topic you are researching. Primary sources are almost always produced in the time period you are researching.
For example, newspaper articles can be both primary and secondary sources. A newspaper article that recounts the events of the Battle of Gettysburg would be a primary source if it was printed in July of 1863, which is when the battle occurred. A newspaper today could do a story on the Battle of Gettysburg, but because it is so far removed from the event, it wouldn't be considered a primary source.