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Research Toolkit: Primary & Secondary Sources

Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary and Secondary Sources


Primary Sources are the original material, first-hand information
or accounts, created at the time the event happened. They do not offer an interpretation of the event. Primary sources are made by the creator, or an eyewitness.

Secondary Sources offer an analysis, interpretation, or explanation of the event. An article or work exploring the meaning or a commentator would be considered a secondary source.

  • Archives and manuscript material
  • photographs, audio recordings, video recordings, films, speeches
  • journals, letters, scrapbooks and diaries
  • published books, newspapers and magazine clippings published at the time
  • government publications
  • oral histories
  • records of organizations
  • autobiographies and memoirs
  • printed ephemera or artifacts, e.g. clothing, costumes, furniture
  • research data, e.g. public opinion polls
  • Newspaper articles published after the event
  • journal articles published after the event
  • magazine articles published after the event
  • textbooks
  • books published after the event (ex: a book published in 2016 about World War 1)

Primary sources give you raw information; secondary sources help you to understand it.

CCCOnline Library Research Databases

We’ve made accessing the databases easier than ever! 

The CCCOnline Library is excited to provide student access to 33 different databases for nearly every academic area! Each research database provides access to scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles, streaming academic videos, primary sources, images, newspaper articles, and more. Featured databases include the following:

Please note: you must be enrolled in a CCCOnline course to access the CCCOnline Library databases.

  1. Select a subject or vendor from the filters on the Research Databases webpage.
  2. Access a database by selecting the Database Login icon, or click on the title for additional information. 
  3. Enter your S# when prompted.

Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Sources

Primary versus Secondary Sources

Online Resources  

Online resources are available to anyone with an internet connection and do not require any login credentials to access. General online sources must always be carefully vetted to verify appropriateness for use in a project (see the Academic Integrity and CRAP Test Guides for details). 


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Brittany Dudek
Colorado Community Colleges Online
9026 E. Severn Place
Denver, CO 80230

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