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ENG102: First-Year Composition (Jones)

Use this guide to help with your semester long research topic for Professor Jones's ENG102 class.

Primary or Secondary? What's the Difference?

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

When conducting research you may also be asked to identify whether an information resource is a Primary or Secondary Source of information.Typically, this might occur in History classes or courses which utilize various historical texts or subjects. Below is a brief overview of what constitutes a primary resource and a secondary resource.


Primary Sources

An Original work

(This source requires you to interpret the work)
  • Diaries
  • Interviews
  • Original Documents (e.g. birth certificate or an official college transcript)
  • Patents
  • Photographs
  • Proceedings
  • Surveys
  • Speeches


Secondary Sources

Reference to an original work

(This is a source where another person interprets the work for you)
  • Biographies
  • Commentaries
  • Dissertations
  • Indexes, Abstracts, Bibliographies (used to locate primary & secondary sources)
  • Journal Articles*
  • Monographs (books)*
*Tip": Dissertations, journal articles and books may be primary sources if the work is original.

Links to More Resources on Primary and Secondary Sources

Still not certain? These links also describe the difference between primary and secondary sources.


Identifying Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary Sources in the Library Databases

To find primary sources in the GCC Library databases, try these options:

Limit your search to a specific date span                Image of date limiter box on the GGCC Library search results page, in which adate span may be entered to narrow results.

  • From the GCC Library website, choose the tab for Search Articles
  • Enter search terms
  • On the result screen, limit your date span on the left side of the screen.
  • Now your results will show items published during the date span you entered.

Primary Sources in History

Gale News Vault

Historic publications. Includes 19th century U.S. Newspapers (1800-1899) and Times Digital Archives (London( (1785-2011)

Salem History
Not about the witch trials! Salem History provides encyclopedic information and primary source documents from various periods in American History. Check out the Defining Documents series within this database for primary documents organized by time period.

Slavery and Anti-Slavery Archive
Publication Range: 1500 - 1984
Debates over Slavery and Abolition, Slave Trade in the Atlantic World, The Institution of Slavery, and Emancipation.

Women's Magazine Archive
Publication Range: 1886 - 2005
Archive of leading women's interest magazines, dating from the 19th century through to the 21st including Cosmopolitan (1886), Women's Day (1937), Seventeen (1944), Essence (1970) and WIN News (1975) Archive begins 1885.

American Periodicals Series
Publication Range: 1740 - 1940
HISTORIC PUBLICATIONS: published between 1740 and 1940, includes special interest and general magazines, etc.



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