What is a primary source?

The NHD book, Making History: A Guide to Historical Research Through the National History Day Program, defines primary and secondary sources:

Primary Source

What is a secondary source?

  • A source that was not created first-hand by someone who participated in the historical era. Secondary sources are usually created by historians, but based on the historian's reading of primary sources. Secondary sources are usually written decades, if not centuries, after the event occurred by people who did not live through or participate in the event or issue.
  • Examples of secondary sources include, but are not limited to:
    • Biographies
    • Books about the topic
    • Encyclopedias
    • Articles about the topic
    • History textbooks
    • Media documentaries
    • Wikipedia
    • Websites about the topic
    • Interviews with scholars

Where can I find primary sources?

Which internet sites have primary sources?

Broad collections

 Primary source sets

Vermont collections

Specialized collections