Primary sources are sources which are related to, the past. Primary sources are usually letters, records or other documents created during or very close to the event, such as diaries, letters, legal notices or accounts. However, primary sources can include photographs, historically accurate documents and personal items.
Secondary sources are created by somebody removed from the event who was either not at the event, or was documenting the event at a later time. For instance, all historical textbooks are secondary sources as are context documents items such as a note in a marriage contract indicating a birth date. The birth date is a secondary source; the marriage date is a primary source.
Important items to remember:
Finding and Choosing sources
There is a vast number of sources that can be used for research. Many are common and there will be a lot of specific local sources which are location specific.
Primary sources of information on family and individuals events, vital records are the preferred source for these occurrences.
Birth, Marriage and Death and to a lesser extent Divorce make up the shortlist of vital statistics to search for.Where to find them:
While not complete, this list shows a few of the common sources. For an exhaustive listing of sources online and offline click here for Cyndi's List