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Handbook for Historians

Guide to writing research papers for the History Department at Le Moyne College

History Research Guides

What sources can I use?

Primary Sources

The following are examples of acceptable primary sources. (REMEMBER: primary sources are materials from the period in the past that you are investigating. You will discover that the library's book collection has a wealth of published primary sources. Still more are digitalized by research institutions and made available on reputable web sites that you will find on the Library's Research Guide for History  web page).

  • private papers
  • published memoirs and diaries
  • institutional records
  • autobiographies
  • eyewitness accounts
  • government documents
  • newspapers/periodicals/pamphlets/films/literary works from the period you are investigating.

Secondary Sources

The following are examples of acceptable secondary sources. (REMEMBER: secondary sources are written by historians after the events in the past that they explore. In addition, secondary sources may include accounts written by people other than historians who were neither participants nor direct contemporary observers of the events they describe. Accounts written by participants or direct contemporary observers may be secondary sources, if they were written many years after the events being described took place).

  • books (but not textbooks or encyclopedias)
  • NEVER Wikipedia
  • articles in scholarly journals
  • eBooks