Answered By: Gus Stamatopoulos
Last Updated: May 23, 2016     Views: 16

A primary source is an original document, manuscript, artifact, or object. They are often created during a studied period and typically provide first-hand information on a subject or personal thoughts/reflections of an individual. Letters, diaries, and records are considered primary sources, but some books can be considered primary sources as well.

Scholars often study primary sources and publish their findings in books and journal articles. For example, while Moby Dick would be considered a primary source for researching Herman Melville (because Melville wrote the book himself), a book of critical essays about Moby Dick would not be considered a primary source (because the essays were written by scholars and not Melville himself).

Click here for a useful guide from Yale University on identifying primary sources.

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