The pages on this guide will point you to some useful resources for your research on topics in history and political science. The tabs across the top of the page provide information on a variety of resources you may utilize during the research process.
Historical research is necessary for both understanding past events and providing context for the present through the examination and interpretation of the evidence surrounding past events. The researcher/historian must then interpret the events, making note of bias and factual "inconsistencies", to find meaning and provide analysis for impact on present day events and issues. [Fifth Edition, by Diana Hacker and Barbara Fister, Bedford/St. Martin, 2010]
Please contact a librarian with questions regarding the research process, locating the sources you need, and assistance in formatting reference citations.
Correspondence (letters, e-mail, etc.)
Original documents (birth certificate, marriage license, trial transcript)
Interviews (face-to-face, recorded)
Proceedings of conferences, symposia
Minutes of meetings
Records of organizations
Survey research (market surveys, public opinion polls)
Newspaper articles written at the time
Works of literature (i.e., The Lord of the Rings, Moby Dick, Good Earth)
Secondary sources provide context and meaning, through analysis, commentary and interpretation of persons and events. Both primary and secondary sources are needed in historical research.
Whereas an autobiography is a primary source, a biography is a secondary source. A government report may be a primary source; a newspaper article may be a secondary source. See the chart below for more examples.
Works of art and architecture
Audio recordings (i.e., radio programs)
Cookery (dishes, utensils, etc.)
The chart below was created by the Libraries at Indiana University Bloomington on its guide for Identifying Primary & Secondary Sources. The chart illustrates possible uses of primary and secondary sources by discipline:
|Discipline||Primary Source||Secondary Source|
|Archaeology||farming tools||treatise on innovative analysis of neolithic artifacts|
|Art||sketch book||conference proceedings on French Impressionist|
|History||Emancipation Proclamation (1863)||book on the anti-slavery struggle|
|Journalism||interview||biography of publisher Katherine Meyer Graham|
|Law||legislative hearing||law review article on anti-terrorism legislation|
|Literature||novel||literary criticism on The Name of the Rose|
|Music||score of an opera||biography of composer Georges Bizet|
|Political Science||public opinion poll||newspaper article on campaign finance reform|
|Rhetoric||speech||editorial comment on Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech|
|Sociology||voter registry||Ph.D. dissertation on Hispanic voting patterns|
Discipline Primary source Secondary source
Education Test scores biography of John Dewey
Religion Bible (other sacred scripture, such as the Qu'ran) Bible Commentary (commentary on other text)