Skip to Main Content

HIST495 Introduction to Historical Interpretation (History Honors)

Guide for history honors students.

What are Secondary Sources?

Secondary sources provide an analysis and interpretation of historical events based on primary sources. Examples include:

  • encyclopedias
  • historical dictionaries
  • articles
  • edited volumes
  • monographs
  • dissertations
  • biographies

Evaluating Sources


  • Have you used a variety of sources?  Compare and contrast the information you find with several authors and and array of sources such as books, journal articles, and dissertations. Comparing and contrasting information will help you identify any bias and enhance the validity and reliability of your research.
  • What are the author's qualifications and affiliation (i.e., where does the author work)?
  • What is the date of the publication? Is the information out-of-date for your topic?
  • Who's published it?  Is it a university press -- in which case the material is more likely to be scholarly?  Is the publisher of a website an educational institution (.edu site) or a commercial or organizational entity (.com or .org site) -- which may give you insight into potential biases?
  • Is the information valid and well-researched?  That is, are the author's ideas supported with research documented by footnotes, a bibliography, and/or a works cited page?

Core Secondary Source Databases

Getting Started with Your Search for Articles: Modern history research will generally require one or both of the following databases.  They can be searched simultaneously or separately:

Multidisciplinary Full-Text Article Databases for Articles and Books