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HIST 1320: U.S. History from 1877: Getting Started

Professor Deirdre Lannon, Ph.D.

About This Guide

My name is Margaret Vaverek and I am the subject librarian for history courses here at the Alkek Library.  Many years ago, I was a freshman taking this class. I learned lots of interesting things in class and even learned to like this thing called research at the college level. I put this guide together to help you succeed in your course, but the things you learn and find in this guide will help you in many other courses as well!

 

The tabs in this guide will help you find the required secondary and primary sources for your research project, and to learn about the many other services provided by the Alkek Library staff.

 

There's a lot here, but If you don't see what you need or you have questions about sources for your papers, please feel free to email me, schedule a one-on-one consultation, or start a chat session – links on the right side of the page. I’m here to help!

 

Sources of Historical Information

At the college level, we rely on certain sources for our historical information. We avoid googling, and we reject most web pages – especially Wikipedia and History.com. Below are the three types of sources you will be working with, and you will find additional information – and help on how to find them - in the tabs of this library guide.

  • Tertiary Sources: You will only use tertiary sources in Step 1 of your Research Project. Tertiary sources, often referred to as reference, or background materials, provide broad information to help you settle on a topic. They can also help you identify and locate primary and secondary sources. Tertiary sources include:
    • Encyclopedias
    • Bibliographies
    • Indexes
    • Textbooks
    • Book reviews
    • Other reference resources

 

  • Scholarly Secondary Sources: These will be the main sources you use in your project. They focus on a specific topic, present an interpretation, and usually include original research. Scholarly secondary sources have been reviewed and vetted by a team of other scholars to ensure the information and interpretation are solid. In this class, we focus on works written by historians, or other scholars that emphasize history in their discipline, like sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies. Scholarly secondary sources include:
    • Articles published in academic journals
    • Monographs (books written by  scholars) 
    • Anthologies (books with works by different scholars collected in one publication)
    • Book chapters (often, one focused chapter from an anthology or monograph will suffice as one of your sources)

 

  • Primary Sources: These are sources of information that come directly from the era or topic you are researching. They provide historical information that has not been analyzed or discussed – that is your job! Primary sources can be many things, including:
    • Letters
    • Journals
    • Official documents
    • Newspaper articles (from the time you are studying)