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Finding Primary Sources

Assistance with locating primary source material within and outside the WSU Libraries.

COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Updates

Pullman Libraries buildings remain closed to in-person visits. Please check our Remote Services during COVID-19 for available services.

What Are Primary Sources? What Are Secondary Sources?

Primary sources are the first-hand accounts of an event or period of time created by participants or observers. Primary sources can be published, or unpublished and may be available in a variety of formats, such as texts (letters, diaries, government reports, newspaper accounts, autobiographies), images (photographs, paintings, advertisements, posters), artifacts (buildings, clothing, sculpture, coins) and audio/visual (songs, oral history interviews, documentaries).

Secondary sources analyze primary sources and other secondary sources to make an argument or create a summary of an event or time period. They provide an analysis of a topic by those who have studied and written about it.  Examples of secondary sources are scholarly articles and books. Secondary sources

Tertiary sources include reference resources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks. These can provide background information (timelines, major events and people of a time period) on a subject and may also list bibliographies for further reading.

The tabs to the left link to pages with information on how to find specific types of primary sources. 

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us