[ Photograph of Two Volumes of Crown Attorney Charles Hutchinson\\\'s Letterbooks from 1880, Photograph taken in August, 2005 at the Archives and Research Collections Centre, University of Western Ontario.  Copyright Great Unsolved Canadian Mysteries Project, Jennifer Pettit,   ]

The majority of the documents found on this website consist of primary sources produced by people directly involved in the Donnelly murders, or by people living in the same era as the Donnellys. In this section of the website, however, you will find a number of secondary sources. Secondary sources consist of books, articles, interpretations, etc. that are written after an event takes place.

Secondary sources typically attempt to describe and/or analyze an event. The authors of secondary sources usually base their ideas on an analysis of primary sources. Even though they are not created at the time of the event, secondary sources are still very valuable to historians. They are often the easiest means of learning about a subject and they tell you about how other historians have interpreted events. Remember though, that a secondary source usually offers only one interpretation and it may not agree with the ideas put forth in another secondary source. Historians might base their conclusions on altogether different evidence or examine the same primary sources and interpret them in various ways.

Your job, like that of a professional historian, is to examine secondary sources for bias and inaccuracies. You have an advantage over most readers because you can compare the secondary sources in the library section with the primary sources found throughout this website. You will be able to critically evaluate the secondary sources and compare their findings to your own research on the Donnellys and nineteenth century Ontario.