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Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources: A Quick Guide: Secondary Sources

Understanding the differences among these three types of sources with examples for each type. Click on the TABS to access each section.

What is a Secondary Source?

Secondary sources are books, periodicals, web sites, etc. that people write using the information from primary sources. They are not written by eyewitnesses to events, for instance, but use eyewitness accounts, photographs, diaries and other primary sources to reconstruct events or to support a writer's thesis about the events and their meaning. Many books you find in the Cornell Library Catalog are secondary sources.

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Michael Engle
106 Olin Library
Cornell University Library

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