Primary sources are accounts, documents, or artifacts from a time or event, either created during the time of the event or retrospectively (such as with memoirs) at a later by a participant in the event. Primary sources reflect the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer. Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period.
Secondary sources are works that interpret or analyze a historical event or phenomenon. They are generally at least one step removed from the event, and are often based on primary sources. Examples include: scholarly or popular books and articles, reference books, and (sometimes) textbooks.
Tertiary sources generally provide an overview or summary of a topic, and may contain both primary and secondary sources. The information is displayed as entirely factual, and does not include analysis or critique. Some examples are encyclopedias, some textbooks, bibliographies, and almanacs.
Tertiary sources are a good place to begin research on a new or unfamiliar topic -- they provide scope and context in manageable amounts. When delving deeper into the research, looking for analysis secondary \To find more in-depth analysis on the Equal Rights Amendment, you consult a secondary source: the nonfiction book Why We Lost the ERA by Jane Mansbridge and a newspaper article from the 1970s that discuss and review the legislation. These provide a more focused analysis of the Equal Rights Amendment that you can include as sources in your paper (make sure you cite them!). A primary source that could bolster your research would be a government document detailing the ERA legislation that initially passed in Congress, giving a first-hand account of the legislation that went through the House and Senate in 1972.
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. The Library preserves and provides access to a rich, diverse and enduring source of knowledge to inform, inspire & engage.
Access thousands of primary sources — letters, photographs, speeches, posters, maps, videos, and other document types — spanning the course of American history.
Primary documents, images, audio files, videos, artifacts and more, spanning the course of American History.
Calisphere offers students more than 200,000 primary sources such as photographs, documents, newspapers, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, and other cultural artifacts. These materials reveal the diverse history and culture of California and its role in national and world history.