Trove has primary sources from Australia. Most primary source materials are not digitized and may only be represented online with a record or finding aid. Both digitized and not digitized materials can be found through catalogs such as WorldCat , the Library of Congress catalog , the National Archives catalog , and so on. History as an academic discipline is based on primary sources, as evaluated by the community of scholars, who report their findings in books, articles and papers.
Arthur Marwick says "Primary sources are absolutely fundamental to history.
In practice some sources have been destroyed, while others are not available for research. Perhaps the only eyewitness reports of an event may be memoirs , autobiographies, or oral interviews taken years later. Sometimes the only evidence relating to an event or person in the distant past was written or copied decades or centuries later. Manuscripts that are sources for classical texts can be copies of documents, or fragments of copies of documents.
This is a common problem in classical studies , where sometimes only a summary of a book or letter has survived. Potential difficulties with primary sources have the result that history is usually taught in schools using secondary sources. Historians studying the modern period with the intention of publishing an academic article prefer to go back to available primary sources and to seek new in other words, forgotten or lost ones.
Primary sources, whether accurate or not, offer new input into historical questions and most modern history revolves around heavy use of archives and special collections for the purpose of finding useful primary sources. A work on history is not likely to be taken seriously as scholarship if it only cites secondary sources, as it does not indicate that original research has been done. However, primary sources — particularly those from before the 20th century — may have hidden challenges.
For this reason, the interpretation of primary texts is typically taught as part of an advanced college or postgraduate history course, although advanced self-study or informal training is also possible.
The following questions are asked about primary sources: [ by whom? In many fields and contexts, such as historical writing, it is almost always advisable to use primary sources if possible, and "if none are available, it is only with great caution that [the author] may proceed to make use of secondary sources. A history, whose author draws conclusions from other than primary sources or secondary sources actually based on primary sources, is by definition fiction and not history at all. However, a primary source is not necessarily more of an authority or better than a secondary source.
There can be bias and tacit unconscious views which twist historical information. The errors may be corrected in secondary sources, which are often subjected to peer review , can be well documented, and are often written by historians working in institutions where methodological accuracy is important to the future of the author's career and reputation. Historians consider the accuracy and objectiveness of the primary sources that they are using and historians subject both primary and secondary sources to a high level of scrutiny.
A primary source such as a journal entry or the online version, a blog , at best, may only reflect one individual's opinion on events, which may or may not be truthful, accurate, or complete. Participants and eyewitnesses may misunderstand events or distort their reports, deliberately or not, to enhance their own image or importance. Such effects can increase over time, as people create a narrative that may not be accurate. The facts can be distorted to present the opposing sides in a negative light.
Barristers are taught that evidence in a court case may be truthful but may still be distorted to support or oppose the position of one of the parties. Many sources can be considered either primary or secondary, depending on the context in which they are examined.
If a historical text discusses old documents to derive a new historical conclusion, it is considered to be a primary source for the new conclusion. Examples in which a source can be both primary and secondary include an obituary  or a survey of several volumes of a journal counting the frequency of articles on a certain topic.
Whether a source is regarded as primary or secondary in a given context may change, depending upon the present state of knowledge within the field. In some instances, the reason for identifying a text as the "primary source" may devolve from the fact that no copy of the original source material exists, or that it is the oldest extant source for the information cited. Historians must occasionally contend with forged documents that purport to be primary sources. These forgeries have usually been constructed with a fraudulent purpose, such as promulgating legal rights, supporting false pedigrees, or promoting particular interpretations of historic events.
The investigation of documents to determine their authenticity is called diplomatics. For centuries, Popes used the forged Donation of Constantine to bolster the Papacy's secular power.
Among the earliest forgeries are false Anglo-Saxon charters , a number of 11th- and 12th-century forgeries produced by monasteries and abbeys to support a claim to land where the original document had been lost or never existed. One particularly unusual forgery of a primary source was perpetrated by Sir Edward Dering , who placed false monumental brasses in a parish church.
Recently, forged documents have been placed within the UK National Archives in the hope of establishing a false provenance. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with Primary sector. Original source of information created at the time under study. Pepperdine University. Retrieved 17 January University Libraries, University of Maryland. Ithaca College Library. An Introduction to the Historiography of Science. Cambridge University Press.
Since a source is only a source in a specific historical context, the same source object can be both a primary or secondary source according to what it is used for. A Textbook of Historiography, B. Orient Longman. That this imposition is basic in any understanding of the past is clear from the rules that documents should not be altered, or that any material damaging to a historian's argument or purpose should not be left out or suppressed.
These rules mean that the sources or the texts of the past have an integrity and that they do indeed 'speak for themselves', and that they are necessary constraints through which past reality imposes itself on the historian. Research Guides at Tufts University. Retrieved 15 January Ithaca, N. American Historical Review. The American Historical Review, Vol. Lafayette College Library. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, The American Sociologist.
The analysis of secondary source information is problematic. The further an investigator is from the primary source, the more distorted the information may be.
Again, each new person may put his or her spin on the findings. International Encyclopedia of Communications. Barnouw et al. New York: Oxford, Richard Weiner. NY: Macmillan, Norm Goldstein. Reading: Perseus, Cates, Jo A. Journalism: A Guide to the Reference Literature. Manchel, F. Film Study: An Analytical Bibliography. Halliwell, Leslie. The Oxford Companion to Film. LizAnne Bawden. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, Albany: Film and Television Documentation Center, —. Cambridge Medieval History.
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