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Literature Research Guide: Primary Sources

Primary Sources in Literature

A primary source is "first-hand" information, sources as close as possible to the origin of the information or idea under study.

Primary sources are contrasted with secondary sources, works that provide analysis, commentary, or criticism on the primary source.

In literary studies, primary sources are often creative works, including poems, stories, novels, and so on.

In historical studies, primary sources include written works, recordings, or other source of information from people who were participants or direct witnesses to the events in question.

Examples of commonly used primary sources include government documents, memoirs, personal correspondence, oral histories, and contemporary newspaper accounts.

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