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History Comprehensive: General Research Guide: Welcome

A guide to historical research for students.

Welcome to Historical Research

Welcome to Historical Research

Tablets in a pottery jar

This guide offers you help in researching short papers on ancient historical topics. With it, you can learn how to:

  • Find primary sources.

  • Find secondary sources.

  • Understand the differences and gradations between primary and secondary sources.

  • List your sources in a Works Cited

Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary and Secondary Sources

Aqueduct in the Middle East The definitions for primary and secondary sources vary from one subject and even one professor to another. Historians generally define primary sources as accounts written by those close to the time and place of events, and secondary sources as credible books, journals, and magazines.

Unfortunately, this definition does not entirely work for teh world before 1500. Ordinary people left few, if any written records, and for very ancient societies or those that were destroyed by conquest, there are few written records of any kind. Often ancient works that describe historical events are also literary or religious, and for extremely ancient civilizations, history fades into archaeology and anthropology.

If you find a useful item and are unsure of whether it is primary or secondary, or whether you can use it for a history paper, you need to ask your professor.

PINS and Passwords

PINs and Passwords

You need your GIL PIN to borrow books from other campuses and through GIL Express. Watch this video to learn more about getting your GIL PIN.

GALILEO is the library's gateway to databases. To search GALILEO databases at home, you need the current GALILEO password. You can obtain the GALILEO password through GIL-Find, the library's book catalog.

Location Location Location

Location Location Location

When learning about events in the ancient world, it is helpful to know where they happened, and perhaps what is at that location today. These websites feature both historical and modern maps to help pinpoint your topic in space as well as time.

Historical Maps by History Link 101
Maps that place a variety of ancient civilizations in geographical context. Civilizations include: China, Africa, and the New World as well as Europe and the Near East.

Euratlas Periodis Web
A century-by-century look at Europe from the year 1 CE to the Twentieth Century. Note: these maps may not include all of Russia and also include the northern coast of Africa and Turkey.

Maps of the Ancient Roman World
Close up maps of Rome sketched by its generals and emperors. A present day map of Europe probably helps in better understanding these maps.

A basic world atlas that shows both political and physical maps of the world as well as individual countries.

United Nations Cartographic Section Web Site
Offers detailed PDF maps of both the entire world and individual countries, as well as some regions.

Bing Maps
Google Maps
Simply type a present day country or city into either of these sites map search engine and you will receive a detailed road map and sometimes an aerial view, though you probably will not see any historical ruins. The pan function on both thsee sites gives you an arm chair walking or driving tour.