Secondary source

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A secondary source is a document or recording that writes or speaks about information that was originally presented elsewhere. This information is called primary source or original source of the information.

Secondary sources often involve the use of processes of generalization, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, or evaluation of the original information.

In historiography, a secondary source is a study written by a scholar about a topic, and using primary sources and other secondary sources.

Example[change | edit source]

An example of a secondary source is the biography of a historical figure in which the author tells the story on the basis of many primary source documents, such as letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, photographs, and official records. A scholarly secondary source is familiar with the existing secondary literature and seeks to engage it in terms of arguments and evidence. Most, but not all, secondary sources use extensive citation.

Secondary sources in law[change | edit source]

Secondary sources are often used in common law, to allow judges to determine what is actually meant by the language of a particular statute. See legislative intent.

Other pages[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  • Jules R. Benjamin. A Student's Guide to History (2003)
  • Edward H. Carr, What is History? (New York: Vintage Books, 1961).
  • Wood Gray, Historian's handbook, a key to the study and writing of history (Houghton Mifflin, 1964).
  • Derek Harland, A Basic Course in Genealogy: Volume two, Research Procedure and Evaluation of Evidence, (Bookcraft Inc, 1958)
  • Richard Holmes. Tommy (HarperCollins, 2004)
  • Martha C. Howell and Walter Prevenier. From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods (2001)
  • Richard A. Marius and Melvin E. Page. A Short Guide to Writing About History (5th Edition) (2004)
  • Hayden White, Metahistory: the historical imagination in nineteenth-century Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973).

Further reading[change | edit source]