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Historical Research Method: Home

Lists books, journals and websites that may be useful sources when conducting historical research.

What is historical research?

Historical research or historiography, "attempts to systematically recapture the complex nuances, the people,meanings,events,and even ideas of the past that have influenced and shaped the present". (Berg & Lure, 2012, p. 305 )

Historical research relies on a wide variety of sources, both primary & secondary including unpublished material. 

Primary Sources

  • Eyewitness accounts of events
  • Can be oral or written testimony
  • Found in public records & legal documents, minutes of meetings, corporate records, recordings, letters, diaries, journals, drawings.
  • Located in university archives, libraries or privately run collections such as local historical society.

Secondary Sources

  • Can be oral or written
  • Secondhand accounts of events
  • Found in textbooks, encyclopedias, journal articles, newspapers, biographies and other media such as films or tape recordings.

Steps in Historical Research

Historical research involves the following steps:

  1. Identify an idea, topic or research question
  2. Conduct a background literature review
  3. Refine the research idea and questions
  4. Determine that historical methods will be the method used
  5. Identify and locate primary and secondary data sources
  6. Evaluate the authenticity and accuracy of source materials
  7. Analyze the date and develop a narrative exposition of the findings.

(Berg & Lune, 2012, p.311)

Locating Information: Libraries

In addition to raw data and unpublished manuscripts, libraries also hold back copies of journals and newspapers.


Key Sources

Locating Information: Museums