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History Research Guide   Tags: hist, history, history education, history study  

Last Updated: Jul 17, 2015 URL: http://libguides.lib.siu.edu/history Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Suggested Readings

Cover Art
American Women's History: A Very Short Introduction - Susan Ware
Call Number: Electronic Resources
ISBN: 0199328331
Publication Date: 2015

Cover Art
China's Civil War: A Social History - Diana Lary
Call Number: DS777.54 .L36 2015
ISBN: 1107054672
Publication Date: 2015

Cover Art
Making History New: Modernism and Historical Narrative - Seamus O'Malley
Call Number: Browsing Room, 1st Floor - Literary Non-Fiction O'Malley
ISBN: 0199364230
Publication Date: 2015

Cover Art
The Contentious History of the International Bill of Human Rights - Christopher N. J. Roberts
Call Number: K3238.31948 .R63 2015
ISBN: 1107601630
Publication Date: 2015

Cover Art
The Jerry Rescue: The Fugitive Slave Law, Northern Rights, and the American Sectional Crisis - Angela F. Murphy
Call Number: Browsing Room, 1st Floor - History : Murphy
ISBN: 0199913609
Publication Date: 2015

 

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  • Interlibrary Loan
    If there's a book not in I-Share, we'll find it. If there's an article that says "We don't have this online," we will get it for you. Just sign up for an Interlibrary Loan account (click First-Time User). Request articles through "Request a Photocopy".
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    Worldwide catalog of library resources. See if it's in I-Share, SIU, or locate items to request via ILL.

Dissertations and Theses

 

What is a Primary Source?

A primary source is firsthand testimony or direct evidence that is usually recorded or created during the time period of the topic under investigation.

This differs from a secondary source, which interprets or analyzes historical events, and can be recorded or created anywhere from days to centuries later.

Locating and Evaluating Primary Sources

There are a number of ways to locate and access primary sources:

  • Reprinted sources published in books or collections, i.e. diaries, correspondence, speeches. (I-Share or I-Share online catalog found at www.lib.siu.edu)
  • Digital library initiatives such as the Library of Congress’ American Memory Digital Library. (internet search)
  • Original materials housed in archives and manuscript repositories. (internet search; published directories of archives and manuscript repositories)

The ability to determine the authenticity and research value of primary source material is a skill that needs to be developed over time. There are a number of criteria that should be considered when evaluating each source, including:

  • Author/Creator: How well situated was s/he to observe or record the events in question? What was the author’s physical location? Were they an eyewitness or did they get the information from another?
  • Content: What is the document about?
  • Additional information: What else do you need to know in order to fully understand the document – do you need to look up names, places, dates, and/or technical terms?
  • Date of creation: How soon after the event was the record created?
  • Intended audience: When, how, and for whom was the record created?
  • Potential biases: Is there bias, either in the report or in yourself that must be accounted for? Might the person’s social or economic position have influenced knowledge that could affect the credibility of the record?
  • Authenticity: Is it original, digital, reprinted, etc.?
  • Reliability: Is there corroboration?
  • Is it relevant to your research?
      

    Government Documents

    Government documents can be excellent primary sources for use in history papers and projects. We have created a guide with detailed information about the many different types of government documents available:

    Digital Libraries

     

    OpenSIUC

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