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HON 1000: ‘Going Steady?’: Documenting the History of Dating in American Culture, 1940-1990 (Anderson/Fall 2016)

What Is a Secondary Source?

A secondary source is a source (usually a book, an article, or a paper) written by a scholar, based on the interpretation of primary sources and other relevant secondary sources.

What does a secondary source do?

  • Provides background and context; helps you identify relevant keywords for searching
  • Points you toward other relevant secondary sources
  • Points you toward primary sources: intellectual honesty requires scholars to "show their work" and cite primary sources used
  • Can serve as model for your own writing

When you write a research paper, you are creating a secondary source!

BUT THIS CLASS IS ABOUT FINDING PRIMARY SOURCES!

WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT SECONDARY SOURCES??

Because, if you find yourself stuck and unable to find useful primary sources, it can be helpful to consult a SECONDARY source (a book or article about or related to your topic....

to learn more, to help you think of keywords you hadn't thought of... AND

to see what PRIMARY SOURCES that author used. 

Because then you can see if you can find THOSE sources!

This technique is called FOOTNOTE MINING. 

(Pardon the screaming. This is a SUPER-USEFUL way of finding primary sources!)

For more information on footnote mining, see the Mining Footnotes tab above.

For more detailed information on finding historical secondary sources (i.e. history books and articles), see the general History research guide