Primary sources are contemporary accounts of an event, created by someone who experienced or witnessed the event in question as and when it occurred. They are records of events as they are first described and reflect the viewpoint of the individual participant or observer. They provide a first-hand account, generally without hindsight or reflection.
Examples of written primary sources are:
Examples of non-written primary sources are:
However, the definition of “primary source” can vary depending on your research question. For example, Shakespeare’s play “Richard III” would be a primary source if you’re studying Shakespeare, but not if you’re studying the actual person “Richard III”. Still have questions? Ask a librarian!