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FYS: World War II

What Are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are the raw materials of history - original documents and objects which were created at the time under study- or original research (experiments, scientific studies, surveys). They are different from secondary sources, accounts, interpretations, or criticism of primary sources or historical events.

-- Adapted from the Library of Congress

Primary Source Examples in the Humanities

  • Letters and diaries
  • Historical newspaper and magazine articles (factual accounts)
  • Government documents, laws, and records
  • Interviews and oral history
  • Creative works like music, painting, and literature
  • Photographs and recordings

Primary Source Examples in the Sciences

  • Articles reporting on original research--typically in peer-reviewed and scholarly journals
  • Results of scientific experiments and clinical trials--should typically include research methodology used

Secondary sources, like biographies, histories, and criticism, analyze and interpret primary sources.

Primary Source Links on WWII

Primary Source Books

Primary Vs. Secondary Resources - Video