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History Subject Guide

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

A primary source is a firsthand account from participants or observers of an event or period of time.

Examples of historical primary sources include but are not limited to: 

  • Published manuscripts such as autobiographies
  • Unpublished manuscripts such as diaries and journal entries
  • Articles and newspapers of firsthand accounts of events
  • Audio visual materials such as speeches, images, videos, or music

A secondary source is a description, analysis or recounting of a primary source. 

Examples of historical secondary sources include but are not limited to:

  • Biographical works
  • Reference books such as dictionaries and encyclopedias
  • Articles and newspapers recounting events
  • Literature reviews

Below are links to primary and secondary sources that are available online and in the library.

Online Resources

See links below for selected historical primary sources that are available online. 

Supplemental eBooks for History

The Chamberlain University Library offers access to full eBook collections from subscription-based databases. Below is a list of eBooks that cover all aspects of history. You can find these eBooks along with similar titles by doing a keyword search from the General Education search box on the first page of this guide.

Here are some example search statements:

American history AND democracy
World War II AND cause


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