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History Guide

Welcome to the History Library Guide. This guide is intended to help you make the most of library resources for your history classes.

Tertiary Sources

Tertiary sources are reference materials. They summarize information from other sources. Because they don't provide original analysis or interpretation, you typically wouldn't use them as sources for your assignments. However, they are useful for getting a broad overview of a topic and for identifying primary and secondary sources. Tertiary Sources can include:

  • Bibliographies
  • Book Reviews
  • Dictionaries
  • Encyclopedias
  • Indexes
  • Textbooks

Locating Tertiary Sources

Dictionaries and encyclopedias can be a good starting point if you want to browse for a topic or gain some background information. They also sometimes contain bibliographic content.

Use the Advanced Search feature to search for dictionaries and bibliographies in the library catalog. Add a line to the search filters to include "AND subject contains dictionary" or "AND subject contains encyclopedia." For Material Type select "Books." Because these types of resources often contain a broad range of information, you may need to select a broader search term to get results.

The Advanced Search box in the library catalog shows a search for African American. The second line of the search string adds AND subject contains dictionary. The material type is limited to books.


You can also find encyclopedias and dictionaries in the A-Z Databases.

Bibliographies can help you find primary and secondary sources that might be useful for your research. In addition to looking at the bibliographies listed at the end of a monograph or journal article, you can find subject specific bibliographies published as books or in databases.

Use the Advanced Search feature to search for bibliographies in the library catalog. Add a line to the search filters to include "AND subject contains bibliography." For material type select "Books."

The advanced search feature shows the search string any field contains reformation and subject contains bibliographies. Books is selected for material type.


Additional bibliographies can be found in the A-Z Databases.

Book reviews can be useful for determining which secondary sources will be most useful for your research. Book reviews usually contain a brief summary of the contents, a critique of the author's thesis and use of evidence, and a discussion of how the book fits into the historiography of its subject.

The A-Z Databases are a good place to go for book reviews. Some databases focus on book reviews exclusively, while others include them alongside other journal content.

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