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A Research Guide: From the Secondary Source to the Primary Source


The method you choose to do research is ultimately your own. This guide is designed as a source to help you navigate the vast amount of information available both in print and electronically. There are several points to remember when formulating a research strategy:

  1. Don't rely solely on the web for answers to your research needs.
  2. Think of history as the stories of people and the society in which they lived.
  3. Visit your public library and use the reference collection to learn about the general facts of your research topic.
  4. Use both printed and electronic reference sources to locate information.
  5. Evaluate the source of information you use including the reference books, secondary sources and primary sources you encounter.
  6. Write down what sources you get your information from; you may need to go back to them throughout the research process.
  7. Learn the research process - Use reference sources to locate the names of secondary sources, use the footnotes in the secondary sources to locate primary sources.
  8. Recognize that a document that has been published is still considered a primary source as long as the intellectual content remains the same.
  9. Do preliminary research before contacting a manuscript library or archives. Be prepared with citations and footnotes from secondary sources.
  10. Have fun with history and continually find creative ways to explore the past!
Table of Contents | Reference Sources | Exhibit Introduction
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Introduction | Essay | Timeline | 10 Accounts | Biographies
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