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OT 525: Occupational Therapy History and Theory

What are primary sources?

Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience.

-- Library of Congress

Primary Source Examples in the Humanities

  • Letter and diaries
  • Newspaper and magazine articles (factual accounts)
  • Government documents 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.

Finding Sources on the History of OT

Analyzing and Intepreting Primary Sources

Primary or Secondary? You Decide!

Test your understanding of primary versus secondary sources.

Which sources are primary and which are secondary? Explain why!