History 391: Finding Secondary Sources

When India was the World: Trade, Travel and History in the Indian Ocean
Professor: Aparna Kapadia
Spring 2019

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.