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United States Military Academy Library

BLDP: Types of Sources


Research that includes a strong scholarly discourse often relies on using both primary and secondary resources. Both are valuable and can be used to provide context and historical data to your argument.

  • Primary Sources are first-hand accounts sources written by the person or people experiencing the topic/event
  • Secondary Sources cover the same topics/events, but they are written by someone who did not personally experience the topic/event. The majority of publications fall into this category.

However, primary and secondary resources can look different, depending on your discipline. Here are some examples within the Humanities:


Primary Sources Secondary Sources

Letters, journals, diaries, and manuscripts

Biographies, textbooks, and academic analyses of a person or event
Recordings, transcripts, or photographs of speeches, oral histories, or events as they occur Documentaries
Court records and Government documents Newspaper article discussing a law or recounting a politician's stance
Empirical studies and datasets Analysis or interpretations of others' studies or data
Social media posts by the person who was at an event Social media reposts and shares by others


Primary and Secondary Sources Videos


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