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Medieval Literature

Primary Sources :: Defined

Primary sources provide firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic or question under investigation. They are usually created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring.

"Primary sources . . . are defined as the direct evidence of a time and place that you are studying – any material (documents, objects, etc.) that was produced by eyewitnesses to or participants in an event or historical moment under investigation. Secondary sources, in contrast, are interpretations – often generated by scholars – that are based upon the examination of multiple primary sources." (from Primary Source.org)

Types of Primary Sources

What types of primary sources might have been produced that would be relevant to your topic?

Which persons or organizations might have produced materials?

Possible formats include:

  • Books, manuscripts, maps
  • Diaries, journals, memoirs
  • Letters, speeches
  • Data, statistics
  • Documents produced by organizations and government agencies

Primary Sources Online