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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

REMEMBER: primary sources are materials written during the period you are investigating. You will discover that the Library's book collection has a wealth of primary sources. Still more are digitalized by museums or other academic institutions and organizations, and made available on reputable web sites that you can find on the Library's Course Guide for History web page (under the Research Guides tab or drop down menu).

The following are examples of acceptable primary sources:

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

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.

The following are examples of acceptable secondary sources:

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