Skip to main content

English 4W, English Composition 5W, and English Composition 100W

This guide supports students in English 4W: Critical Reading and Writing, English Composition 5W: Literature, Culture, and Critical Inquiry, and English Composition 100W: Interdisciplinary Academic Writing.

What Is a Primary Source?

A primary source is "first-hand" information, sources as close as possible to the origin of the information or idea under study. Primary sources are contrasted with secondary sources, works that provide analysis, commentary, or criticism on the primary source. In literary studies, primary sources are often creative works, including poems, stories, novels, and so on. In historical studies, primary sources include written works, recordings, or other source of information from people who were participants or direct witnesses to the events in question. Examples of commonly used primary sources include government documents, memoirs, personal correspondence, oral histories, and contemporary newspaper accounts.