How to Use This Guide

Welcome to the History Research Guide! Use tabs above for more information on the following topics:

 Photograph of the Cleaning of Statues on Pennsylvania Avenue ▪ Books: Use the Library Catalog to access books/ebooks and more
▪ Articles: Use Databases to access articles from periodicals (journals, magazines and newspapers) and more
▪ Websites: Find out where to go to get reliable info online
▪ Citation Help: Access info on citing sources and using NoodleTools or RefWorks
▪ Related Guides: Links to assignment guides, course guides, writing research paper tips and more
▪ Ask Us: Contact for more help

Evaluating Sources

There's a lot of information out there, but not all of it is appropriate for your research. You'll need to evaluate what you find and an easy way to evaluate is with the TRAAP Test. TRAAP stands for Timeliness, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose. Click on the PDF link below to learn more.

Types of Sources

Primary Sources

The Library of Congress defines primary sources as "raw materials of history - original documents and objects that were created at the time under study." Primary sources are original, first-hand, authoritative accounts of events.

Examples of Primary Sources include:

  • Letters, diaries, journals
  • First hand newspaper reports
  • Speeches, memoirs, autobiographies
  • Original photographs
  • Creative works of plays, paintings and songs
  • Research Data and surveys

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources interpret primary sources. They are at least one step removed from the original event or account. It is a secondhand version of events. The Library of Congress defines secondary sources as "accounts that retell, analyze, or interpret events, usually at a distance of time or place."

Examples of Secondary Sources include:

  • Essays and reviews
  • Textbooks
  • Criticisms and commentaries
  • Articles that discuss events and ideas
  • Documentaries (though they often include photos or video portions that can be considered primary sources).