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HIS 162 Sherman

History 162 - Women and History
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  • What are Primary Sources?

    "Primary sources are the evidence of history, original records or objects created by participants or observers at the time historical events occurred or even well after events, as in memoirs and oral histories. Primary sources may include but are not limited to: letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, maps, speeches, interviews, documents produced by government agencies, photographs, audio or video recordings, born-digital items (e.g. emails), research data, and objects or artifacts (such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons). These sources serve as the raw materials historians use to interpret and analyze the past." (Source:


    Secondary and Tertiary Sources

    Secondary Sources

    These sources offer an analysis or restatement of primary sources. They often try to describe or explain primary sources. They tend to be works which summarize, interpret, reorganize, or otherwise provide an added value to a primary source.


    Textbooks, edited works, books and articles that interpret or review research works, histories, biographies, literary criticism and interpretation, reviews of law and legislation, political analyses and commentaries.

    Tertiary Sources

    These are sources that index, abstract, organize, compile, or digest other sources. Some reference materials and textbooks are considered tertiary sources when their chief purpose is to list, summarize or simply repackage ideas or other information. Tertiary sources are usually not credited to a particular author.


    Dictionaries/encyclopedias (may also be secondary), almanacs, fact books, Wikipedia, bibliographies (may also be secondary), directories, guidebooks, manuals, handbooks, and textbooks (may be secondary), indexing and abstracting sources.




    Library Databases

    Finding Resources

    Use the General Keyword search box and type in your topic plus one of the following words or phrases:

          Diar* (this retrieves Diary and Diaries)

          History Source*

          History Document*

          Oral Histor* (this retrieves History and Histories)

          Personal Narrative*

          History Archive*




          Primary source*

    Note: Use of the * at the end of a word will search for singular and plural forms.

    Book Examples

    Internet Links