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Research Guides

 

The raison d'être of historians is to explore the past and attempt to describe, explain, interpret and analyze it. Historians use evidence from the past (primary sources) to support their interpretations which are most often published in the form of books and journal articles (secondary sources). So why should you use secondary sources?

  • Secondary sources provide historical/broader context for a topic. 
  • Secondary sources are written by expert scholars. Before publication academic books and articles are vetted by other scholars in a process known as peer review. 
  • Secondary sources provide historiographical context for a topic. In other words, how has this topic been interpreted by past historians. History is not stagnant but is constantly being reinterpreted in light of new evidence and new outlooks.
  • Secondary sources are based on evidence (primary sources) that are cited in the footnotes and bibliography. Secondary sources are often a quick way to identify important primary sources that you too may wish to use in your research paper. Look for published primary sources such as books, articles and government reports and then search UW Libraries Search or the other sources listed in this guide to see if we have a copy.

Find Books

 

Advanced Search | FAQ | Known Issues

  • By Topic - Type in the keywords that broadly describe your topic. For example: interracial marriage united states history. On the results screen use the "Resource Type" options on the left toolbar to limit your results to books. This will eliminate any articles that were found.
     
  • By Title - search for a specific book by title. Type in the first few words of the book title in quotations.  For example: "child abuse and moral". if you don't see the book on your list of results then use the "Resource Type" options on the left toolbar to limit your results to books. This will eliminate any book reviews that were found.
     
  • By Author - search for books written by a specific author. Type in the last name followed by the first name of the author in quotations. For example: "behlmer george". On the results screen use the "Resource Type" options on the left toolbar to limit your results to books. This will eliminate any book reviews and articles that were found.

Find Articles on History

Use the following databases to identify history articles on your topic. Use the multiple search boxes or link your search terms using the AND connector.  On the search results screen, use the options on the toolbar to narrow your search results. To find the fulltext of the article (if not provided directly in the database), click on the "Check for Full Text" button and work your way through the screens. Not all articles will be online, some may only be in print, others may not be available at the UW. Articles from journals which the UW does not own can be requested via Interlibrary loan.