The Interplay of Primary and Secondary Sources

  • If you're searching for primary sources on a topic, one good place to start is a secondary source that cites original texts, manuscripts, and archives.
  • Conversely, published editions of primary sources will often cite secondary sources for added context, commentary, and history.
  • In particular, critical editions of literary works (primary sources) often have extensive commentary and analysis (i.e., secondary material).

A good starting point for finding both primary and secondary sources is a reference work or bibliography. You can often find reference works in HOLLIS by combining your subject with keywords like Encyclopedia, Guide, Dictionary, Handbook, Companion, or Introduction.

See the Primary Sources pages on this guide for more suggestions.