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AP European History: Home

Research guide for AP European History.


What is a primary source?

Original materials from the time period involved and have not been filtered through interpretation or evaluation.They are usually the first formal appearance of results in physical, print or electronic format. They present original thinking, report a discovery, or share new information ("Primary, Secondary and Tertiary"). They may include (but are not limited to): 

  • correspondence
  • diaries/ journals
  • pamphlets
  • interviews
  • autobiographies
  • newspaper articles
  • creative works (poetic, literary works, musical score, etc.)
  • speeches
  • photographs
  • government documents
  • legal documents
  • artifacts (textiles, pottery, etc.) 

ABC-CLIO 8 Part Video Tutor:

Reading Primary Sources: Introduction

Reading Primary Sources: Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Reading Primary Sources: Finding Primary Sources

Reading Primary Sources: Understanding Perspective

Reading Primary Sources: Evaluating Primary Sources

Reading Primary Sources: Interpreting Primary Sources

Reading Primary Sources: The Value of Multiple Sources

Reading Primary Sources: Conclusion


What is a secondary source? 

Generally secondary sources are accounts written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. They are interpretations and evaluations of primary sources. Secondary sources are not evidence, but rather commentary on and discussion of evidence. However, what some define as a secondary source, others define as a tertiary source. Context is everything ("Primary, Secondary and Tertiary").

Some examples include (but are not limited to):

  • biographies
  • textbooks
  • articles & books that interpret, review, or analyze other works
  • literary criticism
  • political analyses
  • encyclopedias

Recommended databases for European History

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