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History: A Guide to McFarlin Library Resources: Secondary Sources

A guide to online and print sources available through McFarlin Library

Secondary Sources

Berlin, Mehringplatz – Clio, side view
Clio, the Muse of History

Secondary sources are materials created after, perhaps long after, the event, issue or time period you're researching and written by people who were either not involved or not even alive at the time.  They are written by historians or other scholars of the topic and provide an interpretation or analysis based on careful research in the primary sources.  These include:

  • Books
  • Scholarly journal articles
  • Biographies
  • Dissertations
  • Book Reviews

Historical researchers use secondary sources in a number of ways, including:

  • learning more about a topic
  • understanding how the topic has been interpreted by other historians over the years
  • identifying and locating more primary and secondary sources for their own research