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VMED 7361: History of Veterinary Medicine: Types of Sources

Doing Historical Research

"The study of history builds experience in dealing with and assessing various kinds of evidence—the sorts of evidence historians use in shaping the most accurate pictures of the past that they can."  - Why study history? (American Historical Association) 

Primary Sources

Primary sources are generally original records of first person accounts created at the time of an historical event. They may be created later by an eyewitness to the event or time period. Primary sources have not been modified by interpretation and offer original thought or new information.  They are the most direct evidence of a time or an event. Examples of primary sources: 

  • Letters, diaries, memoirs 
  • Personal narratives
  • Speeches, interviews
  • Oral histories
  • Government records 
  • Photographs, sound recordings, videos
  • Newspaper articles from the time of the event (usually considered primary sources, although the reporter may have gathered the story from witnesses)
  • Original research articles, research data 

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are works that are not based on, interpret or analyze, primary sources. They may include:

  • Scholarly books
  • Scholarly journals 
  • Encyclopedias, dictionaries, 
  • Biographies
  • Reviews
  • Textbooks