World History






















Primary and Secondary Sources

We learn about the past from historians. But, where do historians get their information? Usually, they study primary sources, which are sources created at about the same time as the event being studied, often by people involved in the event. Examples of primary sources include artifacts uncovered by archeologists, art works, government records, diaries, letters, speeches, and newspaper articles.

Historians also study secondary sources. These are sources created after the event by people not involved in the event. Examples of secondary sources include history books, textbooks, and encyclopedias.

After historians examine their sources, they write histories based on their understanding of the truth. But, what they write may be influenced by their own opinions or by lack of information. It is not possible for historians to know everything about a past event, so they must rely on the evidence left behind in the form of primary and secondary sources. If new evidence is found, interpretations of history can change.

primary source = a historical document written at the time of the event being studied, often by someone with direct, firsthand experience of the event.

secondary source =a book written by a historian about events that happened a long time ago.