Secondary Sources

BECOME A GOOD RESEARCHER! When you know what kinds of sources are available to you, you can find exciting stories, facts and photographs which can make history come alive!


A SECONDARY SOURCE is a secondhand account about people, events, topics or places that is based on what some other writer has experienced. Good examples of SECONDARY SOUCES are books, newspapers, pamphlets, encylopedias and other materials in which information has been gathered for you. The original material of a person is called a primary souce. When you use first-hand, eyewitness accounts to help you write a story, book, report or film, you are creating a SECONDARY SOUCE. Remember, when you are a good researcher, you become and eyewitness to history! Try to identify other examples of SECONDARY SOURCES in the acticity below.

Read the following examples of sources. Place a check by the ones that are SECONDARY SOURCES. Be careful! Some of the these are diffucult!

____1. Diary kept by John Smith, a soldier in the Confederate Army, published in a collection
of Alabama papers
____2. Photograph of Dr. George Washington Carver taken in 1898
_X__3. Biography of George Washington
____4. Newspaper article about the assassination of President Kennedy written on November 23, 1963
_X_5. Television mini-series about President Franklin Roosevelt's life
____6. Scrapbook kept by Mrs. Mary Smith in 1883 with copies of recipes and household hints
____7. Photograph album containing pictures of classmates at Tuskegee Institute in 1923
____8. Letter written by Emily Smith to her friend Pamela Jones, May 3, 1826, describing her trip by
wagon from North Carolina to Huntsville, Alabama and the log cabin her father was building
for the family
_X_9. Article about Martin Luther King, Jr. in People Magazine, 1988
_X_10. Information about Creek Indians in World Book Encyclopedia
___11. Cassette tape of an interview with Dr. James Lee describing his life as a doctor in Montgomery
    County during the 1920s
_X_12. The Story of Alabama, a textbook by Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton
____13. Matthew Mason's will, 1896
____14. Map of Alabama drawn by John LaTourette, 1841
____15. Minutes from the 1898 organization of Dexter Avenue United Methodist Church published in a play in 1988
Visit the Alabama Department of Archives and History Reference Room or your local library to find many types of SECONDARY SOURCES

For more information contact the:
Alabama Department of Archives and History
Attention: Curator of Education
P.O.Box 300100
Montgomery, Alabama 16130-0100
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Updated: September 18, 2008