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Secondary Sources Defined
What is a secondary source?
Secondary sources interpret and analyze primary sources. Secondary sources are often referred to as one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources are published as:
Journal or magazine articles that interpret or review findings
Books that contain histories / commentaries / criticisms of a topic, and biographies
Secondary sources may include primary sources in them. (e.g. pictures, quotes or excerpts)
Find secondary sources published as books or ebooks
JSTOR This link opens in a new window Humanities ebooks from academic publishers across the globe, including university presses, public policy organizations and independent presses. Use the Advanced Search and limit the Item Type to Books.
ACLS Humanities E-book Collection This link opens in a new windowClassic and award winning scholarly humanities titles published by university presses and learned societies. Simple searches will work best in this database.
Network Sharing and InterLibrary Loan Options for Getting Books
If the NSCC Library does not have the book on our shelves or electronically, HELM college libraries across the state and other affiliate libraries will lend books to NSCC students, faculty and staff.
Request books here
Find secondary sources published as journal or magazine articles
JSTOR This link opens in a new window Journals in the humanities; includes scholarly analysis by and for historians. Limit Item Type to Articles.
Academic Search Complete This link opens in a new window General multidisciplinary academic database. Limit Source Type to Academic Journals.
InterLibrary Loan Options for Getting Articles
If the NSCC Library does not have access to the article you need, document delivery services are available to NSCC students, faculty and staff.
Request articles here
Find secondary sources published as video documentaries
Kanopy streaming video This link opens in a new windowMovies and documentaries in the social sciences that can be searched by history topic.
Evaluating and interpreting historical research
Critically Evaluating Historical Materials
- Evaluate each source to determine if it is primary or secondary, scholarly or popular and if you are using it appropriately
- Understand there are gaps in the historical record
- Think critically about the credibility of sources
- Determine the credentials and intent of an author before using a source
- Consider how the historical context in which the information was originally created, accessed, and distributed would affect its message
- Contextualize primary and secondary source materials within the larger debates surrounding the writing of history
(Adapted from the American Library Association's Information Literacy Guidelines and Competencies for Undergraduate History Students)