Skip to Main Content

English Literature: Primary vs. Secondary Sources

A guide for academic English Literature and related literatures.

Primary Sources

Primary Sources are materials created during the historical time period or event.

Examples of Primary Sources

  • Artifacts: clothing, coins, furniture, pottery, etc.

  • Audio/Visual recordings

  • Autobiographies

  • Census and demograpic records

  • Diaries

  • Dissertations

  • Experiments, clinical trials

  • Government documents

  • Interviews

  • Journal articles/original research

  • Legal documents

  • Letters and correspondence

  • Manuscripts

  • Maps and atlases (contemporary)

  • Memoirs

  • News footage

  • Official records

  • Pamphlets

  • Papers delivered at conferences

  • Photographs

  • Posters

  • Speeches

From Texas Women's University:

Secondary Sources

Secondary Sources are materials that discuss the historical time period or event.

Examples of Secondary Sources

  • Biographies
  • Books that discuss or analyze a topic
  • Commentaries
  • Criticisms
  • Encyclopedias
  • Indexes and abstracts
  • Journal or magazine articles from previous research
  • Newspaper articles
  • Reviews of art, books, movies, etc.
  • Textbooks

From Texas Women's University: