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History

Library resources, databases and articles for history research

Sources

What is a primary source?

Primary sources provide the raw data you use to support your arguments. Some common types of primary resources include manuscripts, diaries, court cases, maps, data sets, experiment results, news stories, polls, or original research.  In many cases what makes a primary resource is contextual.  For example, a biography about Abraham Lincoln is a secondary resource about Lincoln. However, if examined as a piece of evidence about the nature of biographical writing, or as an example of the biographer's writing method it becomes a primary resource.

Examples

 Disciplines

 Primary source examples

 Anthropology, Archeology

 Articles describing research, ethnographies, surveys,

 cultural and historical artifacts

 Communications, Journalism

 News (printed, radio, TV, online), photographs,

 blogs, social media sites

 Education, Political Science, Public  Policy 

 Government publications, laws, court cases,

 speeches, test results, interviews, polls, surveys

 Fine Arts

 Original art work, photographs, recordings of performances

 and music, scripts (film, theater, television), music scores,

 interviews, memoirs, diaries, letters

History

 Government publications, newspapers, photographs,

 diaries, letters, manuscripts, business records,

 court cases, videos, polls, census data, speeches

Language and Literature

 Novels, plays, short stories, poems, dictionaries,

 language manuals

Psychology, Sociology, Economics

 Articles describing research, experiment results, ethnographies, interviews, surveys, data sets

Sciences

 Articles describing research and methodologies, documentation of lab research, research studies

 

What is a secondary source?

Secondary sources analyze primary sources, using primary source materials to answer research questions.  Secondary sources may analyze, criticize, interpret or summarize data from primary sources. The most common secondary resources are books, journal articles, or reviews of the literature. Secondary sources may also be primary sources. For example if someone studies the nature of literary criticism in the 19th century then a literary critique from the 19th century becomes a primary resource.

Examples

 Disciplines

 Secondary source examples

 Anthropology, Archeology

 Reviews of the literature, critical interpretations of scholarly studies

 Communications, Journalism

 Interpretive journal articles, books and blogs about the communications industry.

 Education, Political Science, Public Policy 

 Reviews of the literature, critical interpretations of scholarly studies

 Fine Arts

 Critical interpretations of art and artists—biographies, reviews, recordings of live performances

 History

 Interpretive journal articles and books

 Language and Literature

 Literary criticism, biographies, reviews, text books

 Psychology, Sociology, Economics

 Reviews of the literature, critical interpretations of scholarly studies

 Sciences

 Publications about the significance of research or experiments

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