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