What is a secondary source?

a stack of books

The National History Day Contest Rule Book states that "secondary sources are created after and about a historical event." For researchers, secondary sources can provide context for the time period or event under investigation.

Historians read - and write - secondary sources. A book written in 2018 about child labor in 1918 is a secondary source, even though it may include historic photographs. Reading that book as part of your research might help you understand the significance of primary sources.

But remember, the authors of secondary sources might have different opinions or interpretations. Historians use multiple secondary sources to gain a broad understanding of a topic or time period.

Examples of secondary sources include, but are not limited to:

Links to online secondary sources

Books and Articles



Some sites have both primary and secondary sources

Learn more about using primary and secondary sources: https://www.thinkport.org/tps/mod1/


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