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WGSS 4350 / HIST 4301 - Issues in Feminist Research

Find and access sources for your capstone project.

Putting your primary sources in context

                A check mark in the middle of a magnifying glass o            As you explore the historical primary source you have chosen for your project, you will need to consult other sources of information to put the primary source in context.

Secondary sources are sources that analyze, interpret, or provide context for understanding primary sources. They can take many formats, from Wikipedia entries to newspaper articles. Whether a source is considered primary or secondary will depend on what your research question is and how you intend to use the source.

One important distinction to make when searching for secondary sources is understanding the role of scholarship in your research.

Historical scholarship (sometimes called "secondary sources") is how scholars, like your course instructors, document their studies and share the conclusions of their work. 

You may have heard the terms "scholarly article" or "academic article." They both refer to types of scholarship.

In history, scholarship is created by studying historical sources--primary sources--and analyzing them with context from other scholar's work--secondary sources--to better understand historical events, figures, and cultures.

Traditionally, scholarship has taken the forms of books, articles, and conference presentations. In the field of history, scholars also engage in other types of academic work, like annotating primary sources for reprints, compiling bibliographies of sources related to a subject area, and, more recently, producing podcasts and other types of public-facing work. In this class, you will participate in this type of scholarship through the class blog.

What is peer review?

Since scholarship can take so many different forms, it may or may not be peer-reviewed. When doing historical scholarship, it is important to understand what peer review is and why it is valued in order to take part in the larger scholarly conversation about your topic.


Video transcript

Where can I find background information?

As you explore the context of your chosen primary source, you may want to consult sources such as encyclopedias or news databases to learn more about the history and culture of the item you are studying. The following sources are excellent places to seek this kind of background information. As you search these sources, take note of new terms, names, places, and concepts, as these will add to the context of your primary source and will help you find search terms to use as you go on to search for scholarly secondary sources.

Where can I find scholarly sources?

Below is a list of resources to find scholarship in books and journal articles. These sources will help you contextualize the primary sources you are interested in examining. They can provide information about the time period, creator(s), social movements, ideologies, audiences, and political or legal context associated with your primary source.

Selected databases appear below. Additional databases containing scholarship in history can be found on the UH Libraries website