A primary source is "first-hand" information, a source 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 sources. 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. Commonly used primary sources include government documents, memoirs, personal correspondence, oral histories, and contemporary newspaper accounts.
“The material in Declassified Documents Reference System originated primarily in the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department and various components of the Department of Defense, but it also includes documents from the White House, the National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These documents were formerly classified as Top Secret, Secret or Confidential. The documents can range from telegrams, correspondence and field reports to background studies and detailed minutes of cabinet-level meetings. The size, scope, length and quality of the documents vary.” (from MSU Libraries)
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