Skip to main content

Primary Sources: Start Here

Research Help

Need more information? Reference Librarians are always available to help you. Walk in to see us, send an e-mail, or call the Reference Desk.

Or use AskUsNow! to chat with a librarian when the library is closed.


CCBC Catonsville Library
LIBR Bldg, 800 S. Rolling Rd
Baltimore, MD 21228

443-840-2730 Reference
443-840-2710 Circulation    
410-455-6436 Fax

CCBC Dundalk Library    
COMM Bldg, 7200 Sollers Point Rd
Baltimore, MD 21222

443-840-2592 Reference
443-840-2591 Circulation
443-840-3559 Fax

CCBC Essex Library
LIBR Bldg, 7201 Rossville Blvd
Baltimore, MD 21237

443-840-1425 Reference
443-840-2809 Circulation
443-840-1724 Fax


CCBC Extension Centers
For library services contact
CCBC Catonsville

Hunt Valley

Owings Mills



What is a primary source and how is it different from a secondary source?

Primary sources are original records created at the time a historical event occurred or afterwards in the form of memoirs or oral histories.  Primary sources are often referred to as "first hand" accounts and are frequently used by historians as evidence to build interpretations of the past.

Primary sources may include any of the following: letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspaper articles, speeches, interviews, photographs, memoirs, maps, video or sound recordings, government documents and reports.  

There are, however, many other types of primary sources and these can be as far reaching as lyrics from a song written at the time of an event or a book which includes an interview with someone who witnessed an event fifty years earlier.  

Primary Sources


Cassidy Chesnut's picture
Cassidy Chesnut
CCBC Catonsville Library LIBR 222

800 S. Rolling Road

Catonsville, MD 21228

Subjects:Arts, History, Literature

AskUsNow! 24/7 Reference