Welcome to the research guide for your history senior thesis.
Professional library assistance will be invaluable to you during this process and is available on campus, by phone at 540-441-8400, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org . A research appointment with the librarian is suggested as you begin your research and will save you a lot of time and frustration later on in the process.
To begin your research:
What is a primary source document?
Primary source documents are items that were either created at the time an event took place OR were created at a later date by a person who witnessed the event or the time period. These first hand observations by event witnesses allow the researcher to view the event through the eyes of the participants and examine it within its cultural context.
Primary source documents include:
Primary sources may be available in a variety of formats, including the original document, a digital or microform copy, or a printed copy. Primary source research may be conducted by physically visitng an archive or government repository and handling the primary source documents with your hands, but much primary source research can be conducted via the Internet. Many archives have digitized their holdings and make them available online. One example is Miller Center's Presidential Recordings which provides access to over 5,000 hours of recordings of meetings and phone conversations of 6 presidents from 1940 to 1973.
Primary source research may also be conducted by obtaining microfilm or microfiche from archives. Many repositories scan their entire holdings and make them available via these formats. One example is http://www.archives.gov/research/start/online-tools.html where you can click on the GO TO MICROFILM CATALOG.
What is a secondary source?
A secondary source document is an item that analyzes or interprets an event or time period. Generally the creator is at least one step removed from the event or time period. However, it is often based on primary source documents. When evaluating secondary source documents, researchers should note such issues as how much of the work is based on primary source documents and the quality of those documents. An analysis based on a previous analysis would not be a secondary source document.
May I suggest that you make an appointment with the friendly librarian?
The librarians will be an invaluable source of information on items within the PHC collection and items that can be obtained from other libraries. The more the librarians understand your thesis statement and your research direction, the more specific and tailored their help can be. Professional library assistance is available on campus, by phone at 540-441-8400, or by email at email@example.com . Research appointments are suggested.
Created: Dr. Robert Spinney/Thornhill, 2011. Reviewed: Dr. Douglas Favelo, 2012. Reviewed and revised: Dr. Robert Spinney and Dr. Douglas Favelo / Thornhill, 2013.