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Primary Sources in Archives & Special Collections: What is a Secondary Source?

Identifying and locating primary sources at Purdue University Archives and Special Collections and Beyond

What is a Secondary Source?

Secondary sources are created by individuals who were not direct participants in an event. For example, books on Purdue University history are secondary sources because the author analyzes, interprets, retells, or explains events for which he was not present and did not personally witness.  Secondary sources help you understand a topic and give you different views of historical people, events, and occurrences.


Secondary Sources

Examples of Secondary Sources


Term Papers



History books

Magazine articles

Journal articles

Web sites