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A research guide for students interested in history which includes several useful databases and sites to help you with research.


black and white photograph of students siting with books on steps outside of Derham HallDerham Hall, Students Studying on West Porch Steps, 1941 from the St. Catherine University Archive, Photography Collection

This guide contains a collection of resources (books, articles, websites, etc) and helpful hints to guide your historical research. Use it as a starting point and don't hesitate to contact me via phone, chat or email if you need additional assistance, 

~Amy Mars, History Librarian


Historical Background Information

Getting Started on Your Research

Doing Research for your History Paper

Step 1. Define Your Research Question(s)

A good research question can not be answered with a yes, no or simple fact or figure. Good research questions are open-ended, require analysis and seek to advance understanding in a field. Having trouble focusing your research? Maybe you need more background information on your topic. Try the databases in the "Historical Background Information" box for high quality background information on historical topics:

Step 2. Find Secondary Sources

Secondary sources intrepret and analyze information and can aid you in crafting your own investigation. Gather a diverse array of secondary sources including books and articles.  See the articles tab of this guide for the best bets for fidning secondary sources on historical topics.

Step 3. Understand the Scholarly Conversation

As you gather more secondary sources you will start to see patterns in the conversation around certain topics. There will likely be varying interpretations as well as consensus and dissenting analyses. Use this information to guide you in taking a stance or bringing something new to the conversation witn your research. You can also trace the scholarly conversation by examining the bibliographies of infuential articles (tracing it backward) and through using tools like Google Scholar to find out who later cited a particular article (tracing it forward).

Step 4. Find Primary Sources

If you've done an extensive literature review, you should have a good sense of what primary sources are worth investigating. You can chase down citations in bibliographies and/or search for primary sources using the strategies and resources in the primary resesources tab of this guide.

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