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Nevada History Day Research: Secondary Sources

Plan ahead to ensure your research visit to the UNLV Libraries is successful. This guide introduces how to use the UNLV Libraries and what resources are available to support historical research

Secondary Sources

America: History & Life with Full Text

Journal articles and books about the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present.

Historical Abstracts with Full Text

Journal articles and books about world history from 1450 forward (Does not include the United States and Canada).


An archive of more than 700 important scholarly journals covering business, ecology, education, ethnic studies, history, literature, mathematics, music, philosophy, political science, and sociology with content ending 3-5 years ago

Academic Search Premier

Searchable articles from academic and professional journals and magazines covering every academic discipline.

Journal Articles


 Academic articles, those published in scholarly journals, record and share new research. In the field of historical research, they are considered secondary sources. They provide in depth analysis of narrow topics. Prior to publishing, articles are vetted through a process called peer-review. Most articles include footnotes which can lead you to other material on a topic.

Nevada & United States Encyclopedias

What Are Secondary Sources?

Secondary sources are accounts of the past created by people writing about events after they happened (this could be a few years later or centuries later). In other words, secondary sources are what historians (and History Day participants) create.

Historians' creations usually come in the form of books and journal articles. They are an analysis and interpretation of the past based on evidence provided by primary sources. Some examples of secondary sources are:

Why Use Secondary Sources?

Secondary sources are useful to:

    • Introduce a topic. You can get the who, what & where of a topic by looking at encyclopedias and textbooks which are specialized types of secondary sources. Knowing the who, what & where of a topic is the first step in researching a topic and discovering the "how" and "why".

    • Provide historical/broader context for a topic. For example, if you are researching women's suffrage in Nevada, you may want to use a secondary source to get information on how the state effort compared to the national and international suffrage movement.

    • Provide historiographical context for a topic. In other words, how has this topic been interpreted by past historians. History is not stagnant but is constantly being reinterpreted in light of new evidence and new outlooks.

    • Help you find primary sources. A good secondary source will have footnotes and a bibliography so you can trace the historian's trail of evidence. You can then find this evidence and present your own interpretation.

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