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U.S. History: Secondary Sources

About Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are created by persons who did not experience or participate first-hand in events. Secondary sources analyze, assess, and interpret primary sources to provide context and understanding of a topic. Use secondary sources to find scholarly academic conversations on your topic. Examples of secondary sources include:

  • Books
  • Journal and magazine articles
  • Criticisms and commentary
  • Graphs, illustrations, photographs, data analysis
  • Film documentaries
  • Bibliographies

A secondary source in book form provides a detailed written study of a single specialized subject or an aspect of if by analyzing primary sources and placing them in context. These types of books can be the work of a single author, or a collection of essays by several authors on different aspects of a wider topic.

Journal articles offer a specific focus on a topic in shorter length. Like books, they also will include citations to other sources relevant to the topic. To books and/or articles on your topic, use two or three subject terms to create a search that will bring you related results. Some examples include: 

  • Immigration policy AND United States AND 19th Century
  • W.E.B DuBois AND double consciousness AND influences
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton AND equal rights

Journal Articles