Answered By: Reference and Research Desk
Last Updated: Jan 26, 2016     Views: 5

Primary sources are original materials created at the time or soon after an event occurred. Materials created at a later time by someone who was involved in or witnessed the event are also primary sources. Materials such as diaries, photographs and letters.   

Secondary sources describe, analyze, interpret or summarize events or primary sources. Such sources are often created significantly later than the time the event occurred, or the primary source was created. Sources such as enyclopedias, biographies and textbooks. 

Examples:            Primary Sources                                               Secondary Sources

Literature Hamlet (the play) Journal article about Hamlet
Art Mona Lisa (painting) Article analyzing da Vinci's work
History Interview with a survivor of the Titanic  Book about the sinking of the Titanic
Business Annual report for Microsoft  Book about Microsoft
Politics Diaries of William Lyon Mackenzie King Book about Canada's prime ministers
Social Science Census statistics Article about trends in the Canadian labour force
Psychology Results of a clinical trial to treat anorexia  Book about treatments for eating disorders
Biology Annual bird count Report on the effects of pesticides on birds
Medicine A study about Huntington's Disease Book about neurological disorders

For more information, check out this subject guide