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Primary, Secondary, & Tertiary Sources: What is a Secondary Source?

What are Secondary Sources?

Secondary sources:

  • analyze past conditions or events
  • frame a condition or event within a greater context
  • interpret and discuss primary sources
  • summarize information about a topic based upon primary sources

Secondary sources are often produced in the months and years following an event.

Secondary Sources as Primary Sources

In some cases, a secondary source may serve as primary source due to the research context.  

  • A book review article can analyze and interpret a secondary source book.  The book review is the secondary source and the book is the primary source.
  • Newspaper articles and documentaries may include first hand accounts, interviews, images and original footage  which serve as primary sources.
  • A secondary source book or article written in a specific time period may reflect viewpoints from that time that an author can interpret and analyze as primary source information.

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Search the Library databases and the catalog

Example Secondary Sources from the Library


James A. Cannavino Library

3399 North Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
(845) 575-3106