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HIS 121: Historical Perspectives: Secondary Sources

What is a Secondary Source

Secondary sources are information that was created after the historical era or event under question.  They analyze and interpret primary sources.  Examples of secondary source material include:

  • Books
  • Journal articles
  • Magazine articles

Library Databases

Visit the "Electronic Resources" tab on the History subject research guides to view a complete list of all available databases that specifically cover material in this subject area.  Search the library databases to find peer-reviewed journal articles on a particular topic.  

Below are a few frequently accessed databases covering topics in History. 

NOBLE Catalog

When searching in the NOBLE Catalog you often have to keep your search pretty broad.  This is because you are search for entire books on a particular subject.  You might find an entire book discussing the period of the Reformation and within that book one chapter or section might be pertaining to your topic.  

Journal Finder

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Peer-Reviewed or Scholarly Journal articles are written by scholars or professionals who are experts in their field of research.  The article that these scholars/professionals have written are in turn reviewed and edited by other professionals in the field before it can be accepted for publication in the journal.  

How do you know if the articles you are finding are published in peer-reviewed journals?  Use the following criteria to evaluate your information to determine if it is a peer-reviewed source.

  • Scholarly journal articles usually contain an abstract summarizing the contents of the article.
  • All sources used for writing the article are cited either in footnotes or bibliographies.  
  • The article is written by experts in the field of study.  Usually author's credentials will be listed either at the beginning or the end of the paper.  
  • Language of the article is intended for an informed, educated audience that is somewhat familiar with the material (i.e. not intended layperson).
  • Journal the article is published has submission requirements that involve an editorial or review process.