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Primary Sources  

Explanation of primary sources with lists of resources for locating them in Woodward Library
Last Updated: Feb 24, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Definition & Examples Print Page

Primary Sources in the Library Collection

Cover Art
The Annals of America - Encyclopedia Britannica
Call Number: Reference Collection: E173 .A793 2003 v. 1-22
ISBN: 0852299605
Publication Date: 2003
Annals of America and other books containing reprints of historical documents (e.g., The Declaration of Independence) are located in Ref. E 173.

Cover Art
Then Came the Fire: Personal Accounts from the Pentagon, 11 September 2001
Call Number: HV6432.7 .T54 2011
ISBN: 9780160891854
Publication Date: 2011-09-13
The accounts presented in this anthology are excerpts from the interviews and written recollections gathered by the Center of Military History.

Cover Art
The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It
Call Number: E464 .S56 2011
ISBN: 9781598530889
Publication Date: 2011-02-03
Drawn from letters, diaries, speeches, articles, poems, songs, military reports, legal opinions, and memoirs.


Watch Veteran Interviews

Forrest Gore

Clip from video interview with World War II Veteran Forrest Gore. (Download Video)

Veterans Oral History Project

Download this item and watch many other video interviews in the APSU Veterans' Oral History Project.



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Primary Resources

U.S. Constitution

A primary source is an original object or document -- the raw material or first-hand information, source material that is closest to what is being studied.

Primary sources vary by discipline and can include historical and legal documents, eye witness accounts, results of an experiment, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, and art objects. In the natural and social sciences, the results of an experiment or study are typically found in scholarly articles or papers delivered at conferences, so those articles and papers that present the original results are considered primary sources.

secondary source is something written about a primary source. Secondary sources include comments on, interpretations of, or discussions about the original material.  Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that evaluate or criticize someone else's original research.

A tertiary source is a distillation and collection of primary and secondary sources.




Art and Architecture Painting by Manet Article critiquing art piece
Chemistry/Life Sciences Einstein's diary Bookon Einstein's life
Engineering/Physical Sciences Patent NTIS database
Humanities Letters by Martin Luther King Web site on King's writings
Social Sciences Notes taken by clinical psychologist Magazine article about the psychological condition
Performing Arts Movie filmed in 1942 Biography of the director

Primary vs. Secondary

This video tutorial from the Hartness Library on You Tube offers some good illustrations of the difference between primary and secondary sources.  It also includes an overview of how primary and secondary sources can vary based on a research topic.


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The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien

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