Skip to main content

Research Guides

HSTRY 388: The Supernatural and the Sacred in the Middle Ages: Find Secondary Sources

Why Use Secondary Sources

sample article book jacket sample article

The raison d'être of scholars is to attempt to describe, explain, interpret and analyze issues & events. Scholars use evidence 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?


  • Written by expert scholars. Before publication academic books and articles are vetted by other scholars in a process known as peer review.
  • Peer review ensures that scholarly books and articles are more reliable and credible than other types of publications.
  • Provide historical/broader/in depth context and analysis of a topic. 
  • Scholarly articles and books are based on evidence (primary sources) that are cited in the footnotes and bibliography. They are often a quick way to identify potential primary sources that you too may wish to use as evidence in your research paper. 


Keep in mind

  • Expert scholars are likely to use specialized terminology and theory in their analyses making scholarly articles and books sometimes difficult to understand.

UW Libraries Search


Advanced Search | FAQ | Known Issues

Using UW Libraries Search to Find Books

  • By Topic - Type in the keywords that broadly describe your topic. For example: relics pilgrimage medieval
  • By Title - search for a specific book by title. Type in the first few words of the book title in quotations.  For example: "saints and their communities"
  • 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: "urbanski charity"


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.  Note down the library name and call number -- you need this information to locate the book.


Databases for Finding Articles