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Primary and Secondary Sources
Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources
Civil Rights Act of 1964
"Civil Rights Act (1964)." Our Documents, n.d., http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=97#.
An act to enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States, to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes, July 2, 1964; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789-; General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives.
Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources
|Type of Sources
||Primary sources are original documents, objects, or media created during the time of the event being researched, or by an individual(s) who directly experienced an event, made a discovery, or created a new work of art.
||Secondary sources are a step removed from the original source.
||Tertiary sources typically compile and condense a range of primary and/or secondary sources into an easily-digestible format.
- Across disciplines, contexts, and perspectives, the definition of primary, secondary, and tertiary sources differ.
- Some scholars consider encyclopedias secondary sources, while others consider them tertiary sources.
- In today’s environment of digitized content, most would contend an online image of a primary document or transcript is sufficient, while others might argue the original physical copy is essential for primary research.
- Like many areas of study, distinctions are fuzzy and subject to interpretation.
- When in doubt, be sure to clarify your instructor’s expectations.
- Primary sources are original documents, objects, or media created during the time of the event being researched, or by an individual(s) who directly experienced an event, made a discovery, or created a new work of art.
- They are raw materials with a direct relationship to whatever is being studied.
- Historic artifacts
- Works of art
- Musical scores
- Literary works
- Survey research
- Legal documents
- Video or audio recordings of events being studied
- Secondary sources are a step removed from the original source.
- They may comment or build upon the original primary sources.
- Second-hand reports on events
- Works created by someone else at a different time
- Tertiary sources typically compile and condense a range of primary and/or secondary sources into an easily-digestible format.
(Note: Many of these are also considered secondary sources.)
- Fact books
Free Online Primary Sources
Recommended Library Databases with Primary Sources
The following databases are recommended for finding primary sources. Many also include secondary or tertiary sources.
Access to these online subscription resources is restricted to NWACC students, faculty, and staff. Please use your My NWACC Connection login credentials if prompted.
Access World News NewsBank's Access World News database features full-text articles from national and world newspapers and transcripts of broadcast news reports. The database includes full text from the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (2015-present), Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (1994-present), Arkansas Times (2004-present), Arkansas Traveler (2004-present), Benton County Daily Record (2001-2015), Morning News of Northwest Arkansas (2004-2009), Northwest Arkansas Times (2001-2015), Rogers Morning News (2009-2015), and Springdale Morning News (2009-2015).
American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals Collection A comprehensive collection of American periodicals published between 1684 and 1912. 50 thematic collections from the American Antiquarian Society may be searched separately or in combination. Full-text results include digitized images of magazines and journals covering advertising, health, women's issues, science, the history of slavery, industry and professions, religious issues, culture and the arts, and more.
Britannica Academic Delivers fast and easy access to high-quality, comprehensive information. The rich combination of the insightful Encyclopædia Britannica plus Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, magazines and periodicals, and many other research tools provides the variety of reliable sources that students need to consult when conducting thorough research—all from one resource.
JSTOR Arts & Sciences I & V Provides access to the highest-quality academic journals, books, and primary sources in art and art history, classical studies, history, language and literature, music, philosophy, and political science. Collections on JSTOR include the complete archival record of each journal. Coverage begins at the first volume and issue of the journal ever published, and extends up to a publication date usually set in the past three to five years.
New York Times Historical Provides scholars with online, easily-searchable first-hand accounts and unparalleled coverage of the politics, society and events of the time. The database offers searchable full text, full page, and article-level images from The New York Times from 1851 to 2010.
(Note: New York Times content from 1985 to present is available by creating an account in the New York Times listed on the list of databases, or in Academic OneFile, Biography in Context, Opposing Viewpoints in Context, U.S. History in Context, and World History in Context. Content from 1980 to present is also accessible through LexisNexis Academic.) *This is a Traveler resource. The Traveler Statewide Resource project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
New York TimesMachine Over 150 years of New York Times journalism, as it originally appeared. Browse the newspaper archives, from Volume 1, Number 1 through 2002. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit subscribers; access requires a New York Times account created with an NWACC email address. See the New York Times database for details on how to create an account.
You must log on to nytimes.com with your NWACC.edu account BEFORE searching TimesMachine.
Primary vs. Secondary Sources
This short video explains primary and secondary sources.