Skip to Main Content

FNDS 1205: Understanding Global Cultures

Understanding Primary & Secondary Sources

"Understanding Primary & Secondary Sources" by Imagine Easy Solutions

Primary Sources

"Primary sources are materials produced by people or groups directly involved in the event or topic under consideration, either as participants or as witnesses," (A Pocket Guide to Writing History, 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007).

These primary sources are what historians, art and literary critics, researchers, etc. rely on to interpret history, movements, and events. Primary sources differ based on subject. For subjects like history, anthropology, and political science they are first hand accounts of an event, topic, or time period. These sources can be diary entries, laws, ephemeral such as fliers, newspaper articles, photographs, speeches, etc. For the arts, primary sources are any original artistic piece. Such as paintings, sculptures, music, plays, poetry, and any other original form of artistic creation.

Diary                 Newspaper

President Obama giving a speech Graffiti of a woman's face


For information on how to find primary sources, check out the Recommended Databases page on the left hand side.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are written about primary sources or past events. Secondary sources can be textbooks, encyclopedias, reviews of literature/art, analysis or criticism of other works or events, newspapers, and news media.

Book with glasses on top 

For information on how to find secondary sources, check out the Recommended Databases page on the left hand side.

University of Michigan - Dearborn Logo
  • 4901 Evergreen Road
    Dearborn, MI 48128, USA
  • Phone: 313-593-5000
  • Contact us