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Western Heights Middle LibGuide

Featured Resource

Recommended Databases

These databases are offered by the Washington County Free Library.

Use your RAIL number or library card to login and use features within the database

Websites with Primary Sources

Primary vs. Secondary Resources


Original, first-hand account of an event or time period

  • —Usually written or made during or close to the event or time period
  • Original, creative writing or works of art
  • —Factual, not interpretive

Primary Source Examples

  • Diaries, journals, and letters
  • Newspaper and magazine articles (factual accounts)
  • Government records (census, marriage, military)
  • Photographs, maps, postcards, posters
  • Recorded or transcribed speeches
  • Interviews with participants or witnesses
  • Interviews with people who lived during a particular time
  • Songs, Plays, novels, stories
  • Paintings, drawings, and sculptures
How can primary sources be used in research?
  • —Central point of a discussion
  • —To back up claims and criticisms
  • —Evidence for theories and research
  • —Historical perspective


Written by scholars or observers after the fact, that analyze and interpret primary sources or events

  • —Second-hand account of an historical event
  • —Interprets creative work
  • —Reexamines and forms conclusions
Secondary Source Examples
  • —Biographies
  • —Histories
  • —Literary Criticism
  • —Book, Art, and Theater Reviews
  • —Newspaper articles that interpret, report on a story

How can secondary resources be used in research?

  • —Provide background information to understand the topic
  • —See what others discussed and opinions expressed
  • —Learn how events relate to the “bigger picture”
  • —Understand the importance of events, data, or works of art and literature