How do I find primary/secondary sources?


Primary sources are:

  • first-hand accounts of an historical event or a person's life or work
  • original documents, records, data created at the time of a particular historical event
  • documents created at a later time by a participant or eyewitness to an historical event (e.g. autobiographies or memoirs)
  • raw data

Letters, autobiographies, posters, diaries, archival materials, and photographs are examples of primary sources. Primary sources can be in their original format or reproduced in a different format (e.g. book, microfilm or on the Internet).

Visit our:

  • Primary Resources Guide for suggested starting points to find primary sources available from York University Libraries
  • Archival Research Tutorial to learn how to conduct research at the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections at York University Libraries.
  • Subject research guides or connect with a subject librarian for subject-specific primary source suggestions


Secondary sources:

  • comprise works written later about a subject
  • are usually written by non-participants or eye-witnesses to the historical event
  • interpret, analyze, and debate primary sources

Please visit the research guide for your subject area to find secondary sources.


  • Last Updated Oct 09, 2021
  • Views 31
  • Answered By Betty Irving