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United States History - Pride: Research

Tertiary Sources

Tertiary sources provide overviews of topics by synthesizing information gathered from primary and secondary sources. Examples of tertiary sources include textbooks, encyclopedias and other reference sources. Tertiary sources are not considered scholarly sources and should not be cited in your research.

We use tertiary sources in historical research to:

  • develop working knowledge of a topic
  • build research vocabulary
  • create research questions that can be transformed into thesis statements 

Search these databases to locate tertiary material:

U.S. History in Context

Credo Reference 

Mining Bibliographies

Look at the list of references at the end of secondary and tertiary sources.  Make notes of any scholarly works, for example books published by academic presses, and primary source materials.

Evaluating and interpreting historical research

  • 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)

Secondary & Primary Sources

Primary source is a physical object created during the time under study. The creator is present during the experience so they can offer an inside view of a particular event, development, person or society.

Secondary sources interprets and analyzes a primary source(s). Secondary sources are often referred to as one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may include primary sources in them. (e.g.  pictures, graphics, quotes or excerpts)

Find Books and Videos

Search the NOBLE catalog to find primary and secondary source material in books, ebooks, DVDs and videos on demand.


* To have a book transferred from one campus library to the other, contact a library staff member for assistance. Quick turnaround (1-2 days).

 If you locate a book outside of the NSCC Libraries that is available to borrow, click on the  button and follow the online instructions to request the material. Materials using the regional interlibrary loan service may take up to a week to arrive.


Search the ACLS Humanities Ebook collection to find high quality humanities ebooks from university presses and scholarly societies; many classic, well-known history titles are included

Find Articles

Search the Library's history research databases to find secondary source and primary source material in history journals, includes scholarly analysis writing by and for historians.




 > Limit Item Type to Articles


 Academic Search Complete 



 > Limit Source Type to Academic Journals                              



U.S. History Collection



 > Limit Content Type to Academic Journals

 > Limit Document Type to Articles  


Find Videos

 The Films on Demand History Collection includes streaming video documentaries, news programs and academic films from producers like History Channel Education, Ken Burns, PBS and more. 


Personal Librarian

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Christine Goodchild
Danvers Campus Library, DB 237

Library Hours

Danvers Library 

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Fri: 8:00am to 4:00pm 
*Saturday: 9:00am to 12:00pm 
Closed Sunday 
(978) 739-5525

Lynn Library 

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*Saturday: 9:00am to 12:00pm 
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(781) 477-2133

*We will only be open the following Saturdays: January 27, February 24, March 24, April 28, May 5.