Wellness Collection

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources

Primary Source:
A primary source is firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation.  Primary sources are records of events as they are first described, without any interpretation or commentary.  They are also sets of data, such as census statistics, which have been tabulated but not interpreted.  Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of personal memoirs or oral histories.


    • Diaries, journals, speeches, interviews, letters, memoirs, manuscripts
    • Autobiographies, oral histories
    • Information collected by government agencies, research data, treaties
    • Photographs, audio recordings, video recordings
    • Artifacts of all kinds: tools, furniture, clothing, toys, household items, weapons
    • Published materials written at the time about a particular event
    • Article published in scholarly/peer reviewed journals reporting research methodology, results and conclusion.

Secondary Source:
A secondary source is a work that interprets or analyzes Primary Sources.     It often attempt to describe or explain primary sources or to use them to argue a contention or to persuade the reader to hold a certain opinion.


    • Textbooks, encyclopedias, biographies, dictionaries
    • Essays, critiques
    • Books analyzing  results of original research
    • Articles published in scholarly/peer reviewed journals analyzing results of original research

Tertiary Source:
A tertiary source is a source that discuses or summarizes material published in Primary and Secondary sources.


    • Almanacs, dictionaries, encyclopedias
    • Indexes, bibliographies
    • Text books
    • Trade publications
    • Newspaper, magazine articles