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University of Minnesota

Kathryn A. Martin Library

History Research Guide

Use this guide to help find books, articles, and other useful materials for history topics.

Background Information

Depending on your professor, you may be required to include primary, secondary, or scholarly secondary sources in your research. Primary source materials can be found both in the library catalog and a number of databases. Research articles (scholarly sources) can be found in the databases listed on this guide. It is important to remember to check in with your professor if you have questions about your sources.

Primary Sources

What is a primary source?

Primary sources are documents or artifacts which were created during or near the time an event occurred. They are the creator's thoughts or observations which have not been interpreted by another individual. They may include (but are not limited to):

  • correspondence
  • diaries / journals
  • pamphlets
  • interviews
  • autobiographies
  • newspaper articles
  • creative works (poetic, literary works, musical score, etc.)
  • speeches
  • photographs
  • government documents
  • legal documents
  • artifacts (textiles, pottery, etc.)

Secondary Sources

What is a secondary source?

Secondary source materials are works that interpret, analyze, discuss or relate to a primary source. They are typically written after an event has occurred, or in response to an original work.

Some examples include (but are not limited to):

  • biographies
  • textbooks
  • articles & books that interpret, review, or analyze other works
  • literary criticism
  • political analyses
  • encyclopedias