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

Last Updated: Oct 28, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Suggested Readings

Cover Art
Between Two Worlds: How the English Became Americans - Malcolm Gaskill
Call Number: Electronic Resources
ISBN: 046501111X
Publication Date: 2014

Cover Art
Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe's Early Modern World - Benjamin Schmidt
Call Number: CB203 .S337 2015
ISBN: 0812246462
Publication Date: 2015

Cover Art
Mothers Making Latin America: Gender, Households, and Politics Since 1825 - Erin E. O'Connor
Call Number: HQ1460.5 .O36 2014
ISBN: 1118271440
Publication Date: 2014

Cover Art
Revolutionary Ireland, 1912-25 - Robert Lynch
Call Number: Electronic Resources
ISBN: 1441158383
Publication Date: 2015


Search I-Share @ Morris Library, the library's catalog

Search books, journals, government documents, videos, DVDs, music CDs, and music scores.

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Request items from around the world through Interlibrary Loan.

  • 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".
  • WorldCat  
    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
  • 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



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