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The Americas: What kind of Source is it: Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary?

What kind of Source is it: Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary?

Let’s pretend that, for an assignment, you need to write an essay about what you learned in class last week, but you were ill that day and skipped it!

You rely on a primary source to tell you about the event: you ask a friend to tell you what happened in class, since this friend was there in class and was an eye-witness to what happened. You interview this friend and record what they say on your phone.

However, you want more information, so you play the taped interview to another good friend who was also there, and they interpret what the first friend said and add their own perspective. This friend's short essay is now a secondary source.

But! You are still unsure of what exactly happened in class (one friend says one thing, another contradicts what the first one said), so you conduct more interviews and get more interpretations from other classmates. All these primary and secondary sources are collected by you. These are tertiary sources.

Instructions: Take a look at the sources below. How might you classify them?


1. Anne Frank Bibliography

2. Levin, M. (1985). The Child Behind the Secret Door. In D. Poupard (Ed.), Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism (Vol. 17). Detroit: Gale. (Reprinted from The New York Times Book Review, 1952, June 15, 1) Retrieved from  

3. Anne Frank: the diary of a young girl



Instructions: Use the UTEP Library online catalog to find an example of a primary, secondary and tertiary source. These sources don't have to relate to the same event, etc.


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