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* History

Sources for the study of history at the University of Rochester

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Background Research

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Reference works such as encyclopedias are great resources to consult at the start of any research project. These sources can inspire topic ideas, provide necessary background context, suggest key terms and phrases, and highlight themes and controversies, all of which can help you get a handle on your topic before you start diving into the academic literature and/or primary source research.

Primary Sources

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For historical research, the phrase "primary sources" refers to items that were created at the time an event occurred usually by direct observers or participants. Primary sources are not limited to traditional text-based documents such as newspaper articles and journal entries; photographs, posters, audio recordings, video clips, books, and more can all serve as primary sources if they are used as evidence of the time in which they were created. It's not about the source type...it's about how the source is used for your research.


Digital Collections


Newspapers and Magazines


Historical Documents and Publications

Secondary Research

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Secondary sources and other supporting research materials provide an interpretation or analysis of historical topics, figures, and/or events and build context around the primary sources you are using for your research. There are many kinds of secondary sources, but some of the most common for academic research are scholarly books and e-books and peer-reviewed journal articles.


Start with These Databases

Remember to try out some of the multidisciplinary databases on the "Scholarly Articles" tab as well – those databases are useful for most topics


Other Relevant Databases