Primary versus Secondary

Primary versus Secondary Sources

Primary sources are objects original documents created at the time of an event:

Manuscripts and speeches
News reports
Objects: art, buildings, clothing, photographs

Secondary sources are documents written by people who get their information from primary sources of information:

Films explaining past events
Journal articles
Books about the past

Sometimes secondary sources include excerpts from primary sources.


Nonfiction Books that include Primary Sources

Picture 1

Tunnell, Michael O. Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s ‘Chocolate Pilot’. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2009.


Picture Books that include Primary Sources

Picture 3

Hopkinson, Deborah. Keep On! The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-discoverer of the North Pole. Atlanta:  Peachtree, 2009.

Picture 2

McDonnell, Patrick. Me…Jane. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 2011.

War DogsSelbert, Kathryn. War Dogs: Churchill & Rufus. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2013.

Picture 4

Sis, Peter. Tibet: Through the Red Box. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998.
The author describes his father’s journey to Tibet during the 1950s and shares pages from his father’s diary.

Jacques Cousteau

Yaccarino, Dan. The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

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