A secondary source is information about primary, or original information, which usually has been modified, selected, or rearranged after the fact, for a specific purpose or audience. It can be a description, an interpretation, an analysis, a commentary and an evaluation of an historical event or phenomenon, or the original writing of an author.
Indexes and Abstracts
Dissertations and Thesis
Monographs (non fiction)
Review articles and Literature review
Work of criticism and interpretation
Almanacs and Fact books
Primary sources tend to stand on their own, while secondary sources are based on other sources, but it is not always easy to discern the difference between the two. The same document, or other piece of evidence, may be a primary source to one researcher and a secondary source to another.
For example: If you are doing research on Pearl Harbor, a newspaper article commemorating December 7th, 1941 is a secondary source. An article dated of December 7th, 1941 and reporting the attack on Pearl Harbor is a primary source.
A primary source is firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic, an event, a person's life, original works of literature, and historical facts. It consists of original materials that have not been filtered through interpretation, condensation, evaluation or any type of commentary. Primary sources are usually the first formal appearance of results and offer an immediate picture of the topic under investigation.
Proceedings and minutes
Letters and Correspondence
Scientific journal articles reporting research results
Original documents (birth certificate, transcripts)
Photographs and works of art
Sets of data such as Census Statistics
Works of literature (poems or fiction)
Encyclicals and Other Papal Writings
If you are uncertain about how to find primary sources for your topic, consider trying one or more of the following:
1. Ask your professor about important sources on your topic.
2. Talk to the history librarian about how to find primary sources in Loyola's collections and beyond.
You can use the Pegasus Catalog to locate published primary source collections. While performing a subject search in Pegasus, use the subdivisions below to retrieve primary material on your topic:
Songs and music
Caricatures and cartoons
In addition, look for the Limit by Date option to find materials published during a particular year or range of years.