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Environment & Community Research Guide

A guide for conducting research in the Environment & Community program

Primary Sources


A primary source is:

  • a contemporaneous, firsthand account of an event;
  • data obtained through original research;
  • original, creative works of art such as poems or paintings, etc.


Primary sources can be:

  • manuscripts;
  • diaries or journals;
  • correspondence or letters;
  • photographs;
  • newspaper clippings;
  • government documents;
  • interviews or oral histories;
  • original works of art.

Primary sources can also be reproduced in published books such as:

This book tells the firsthand account of William Anderson's travels through the American West in the early 1830s, even though the book was published in 1967.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are works that interpret or analyze primary research, data, or firsthand accounts of an event.