During the COVID-19 pandemic and even while Archives and Special Collections is open by appointment only on weekdays (Monday-Wednesday) during the Spring 2022 semester, we remain committed to the safety and support of our students, colleagues, and community. Library faculty and staff in the archives look forward to collaborating with teaching faculty to identify flexible and safe options for integrating archival literacy instruction into the curriculum at Penn State Harrisburg, including the following options: synchronous (archivist/librarian-led in-person and Zoom workshops), asynchronous (web-based learning objects, video tutorials, and LibGuides), and embedded archivist/librarian options.
Please contact Heidi Abbey Moyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information and to identify the best options and strategies for you and your students. In order to accommodate faculty and student needs, please contact Heidi at least two weeks in advance of any archival instruction requests.
Access the Libraries' Instruction Request Form online.
What is a PRIMARY SOURCE?
What is a SECONDARY SOURCE?
These are two of the most common questions received in the archives! It is sometimes unclear whether or not a source is primary or secondary. Always check with your professor, a librarian, or the archivist.
Definition of a Primary Source
There are numerous definitions for the term "PRIMARY SOURCE," and they differ depending upon the context of the source's use. However, the simplest definition is a firsthand or eyewitness account or evidence of an event, object, person, or even a work of art. Some examples include, but are not limited to the following:
Definition of a Secondary Source
By contrast to a primary source, the definition of a "SECONDARY SOURCE" is information reported second hand by someone else. You can also think of a secondary source as an interpretation, analysis, or evaluation of a primary source. Secondary sources are removed from the original event, object, person, or even a work of art. Examples of secondary sources include, but are not limited to the following:
Brochure for Understanding Primary and Secondary Sources
Archives and Special Collections contains valuable primary sources that are useful not only to undergraduate students, but also essential to graduate-level scholarly inquiry in the humanities and social sciences at Penn State Harrisburg.
Among the ten archival collections in the repository, three are heavily used by the School of Humanities faculty and students every semester: the Alice K. Marshall Women's History Collection, the Penn State Harrisburg College History Archives, and the J. Randall Plummer Collection. For example, the Alice Marshall Collection has been used often and has been heavily integrated into the teaching and learning objectives for the following humanities courses:
Additionally, the Penn State Harrisburg College History Archives has been featured in CAS 100: Effective Speech as well as HONOR 301H: The Role of Knowledge in Society. Another resource that is regularly requested by faculty for use in the humanities curriculum is the J. Randall Plummer Photography Collection. Featuring museum-quality fine art photography from the mid-1800s through the 1970s, the Plummer Collection serves as a foundational teaching resource for undergraduate students in several visual arts courses such as the following:
Opportunities to collaborate with faculty across the curriculum are welcomed! Please contact Heidi Abbey Moyer (email@example.com) for more information.