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DES 4930 - Design and the Human Condition

Primary & Secondary Sources

Primary Sources are records of events or evidence as they are first described or actually happened without any interpretation or commentary. It is information that is shown for the first time or original materials on which other research is based.


Original written works (poems, diaries, court records, interviews, surveys, original research or fieldwork, research published in a peer-reviewed journal)

Secondary Sources offer an analysis or restatement of primary sources. They often try to describe or explain primary sources. They tend to be works which summarize, interpret, reorganize, or otherwise provide an added value to a primary source.


Reference materials (dictionaries, almanacs, encyclopedias, textbooks)

Books and articles that interpret, analyze, critique, or review original fieldwork 

Where to Start?

As you explore, jot down list of relevant and related terms to use more in-depth searching

  • What  - the topic or issue you are focusing on, and related terms, such as, redlining, housing discrimination. Credo Reference linked below can help with this.
  • Where - what area of Boston
  • Who - the organizations, population groups, and individuals involved
  • When - what time period(s) is key

Jot down what kind of primary sources you will need - presentations, maps, statistics, photographs, regulations, etc.

Topic Backgrounds

Introductory Books on Boston