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HIS 250: Historical Methods

Source types

Primary Sources

Primary sources are those documents and resources that come from the time period you are studying. Examples include: newspapers, letters, movies, government documents, etc. These are vital to understanding the historical context of the topic you are working on. They provide valuable information and are the bedrock of historical research.


Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are those sources that have been written about historical events or periods. Examples include: monographs, articles, movies, documentaries, etc. These sources provide interpretations and explanations of these events and seek to explore the impact and importance of the events and developments surrounding them. These sources are influenced by the prevailing interpretation, the times in which they are written, and many other factors. Understanding these sources and their role is to gain an understanding of historiography


Tertiary Sources

Tertiary sources are sources that identify and locate primary and secondary sources. These can include bibliographies, indexes, abstracts, encyclopedias, and other reference resources; available in multiple formats, i.e. some are online, others only in print.

It is important to note that these categories, i.e. secondary and tertiary, are not mutually exclusive. A single item may be primary or secondary (or even tertiary) depending on your research topic and the use you make of that item.

Primary Sources

Secondary sources

Background information (Tertiary sources)


Reciprocal borrowing privileges:
The Ensor LRC is a great place to do research, however, it cannot meet the rigorous expectations of your history professors. To conduct your research thoroughly and efficiently, a visit to a major research university library like the University of Kentucky or the University of Louisville is a must!
Most major colleges in Kentucky allow you to check out materials with your no excuses : )

How would your history professor respond to this statement? 
"Dr. Wargelin I have to change topics because no one has ever written anything about the French Revolution!"