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HIST 205: American History to 1865

Kathleen Walkner

Secondary Sources

A secondary source describes or analyzes a primary source. These sources are one step removed from the actual event and allow you to understand what scholars and other experts know about your topic.

Types of Secondary Sources:

  • Books or articles that explain or review research works
  • Histories and critical commentaries
  • Textbooks
  • Encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference materials
  • Newspaper articles, magazine articles, and webpages authored by people who had nothing to do with the actual research
  • Journal article that summarizes the results of other researchers' experiments

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Recommended Databases

Note on Scholarly Sources

Never assume the sources you find in library resources are automatically "scholarly." Some databases will have a mix of different types of sources. While the contents may come from a scholarly or peer reviewed journal, you still need to evaluate to make sure it is indeed a scholarly source. Often times you will come across book reviews, letters to the editor, or editorials in these journals that do not qualify as "scholarly sources" because they are not research articles. 

For more clarification on scholarly sources, navigate to the scholarly sources page of this guide. In your library resources module for this week, you will also find a tutorial video on scholarly sources. If you are still having trouble, click on the research help page to connect with a librarian.