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History 135: Secondary Sources

The Coffeehouse from Arabia to the Enlightenment
Professor: Alexander Bevilacqua
Fall 2018

What are Secondary Sources?

Secondary sources interpret or analyze primary sources. Thus, they are a step removed from the event or original text. Examples of secondary sources include:

  • Articles from journals
  • Articles from magazines
  • Articles from edited collections
  • Biographies
  • Book reviews
  • Documentary films
  • Essays in anthologies
  • Literary criticism
  • Popular press books
  • Scholarly books

How you use a source determines whether it is a primary source or secondary source. If you are analyzing a magazine article from the 1940s to talk about what life was like during that time period, it is a primary source. However, if you are citing information from a magazine article written today about the 1940s, then it is a secondary source.

Best Bet Library Databases

Search the Library Catalog

Find books, articles, & more

Historical Abstracts Search Tips

  • Start your search by doing keyword searches.
  • Look at the subject headings of relevant records to determine the terminology used in the database for your topic.
  • Combine the keywords "review article" or "historiography" with your topic to find analyses of the scholarship on your topic.
  • Use the Language Limit to remove items in languages you cannot read.
  • Use the Historical Period limit to narrow your search to the time period you are researching.

Research Tip: Find Text Button

The Find Text Button

Many of our databases have this SFX Find Text Button button, which searches for the full-text of the article in our collections. If we don't have it electronically, look for the "Request article scan" link in the "Get It" section.

screenshot of Get It section with link

Research Tip: Borrow It

Borrow It!

If we don't own a book, or if our copy is checked out, you can borrow a copy from another library. Just search for the book in Williams WorldCat, and then choose "Request Item" to borrow it.

If you need help, just ask!