Secondary Sources

BECOME A GOOD RESEARCHER! When you know what kind 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 SOURCES are books, newspapers, pamphlets, encyclopedias, and other materials in which information has been gathered for you. The original material of a person is called a primary source. When you use first-hand, eyewitness accounts to help you write a story, book, report, or film, you are creating a SECONDARY SOURCE. Remember, when you are a good researcher, you become an eyewitness to history! Try to identify other examples of SECONDARY SOURCES in the activity below.


Read the following examples of sources. Place a check by the ones that are SECONDARY SOURCES.

Be careful! Some of these are difficult!

____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

____3. Biography of George Washington

____4. Newspaper article about the assassination of President Kennedy written on November 23, 1963

____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 University 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

____9. Article about Martin Luther King, Jr., in People Magazine, 1988

____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 1920's

____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

3, 5, 9, 10, 12

Highlight the black box to get the answers

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 36130-0100

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