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History 201: USA in the1930s: Home

Clio: The Muse of History


  • become familiar with standard information retrieval tools in history
  • execute effective and efficient search strategies
  • locate, retrieve, and manage quality sources that meet the requirement of your research assignment
  • manage bibliographic content


Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct by the American Historical Association

Primary Source Defined

We honor the historical record, but understand that its interpretation constantly evolves as historians analyze primary documents in light of the ever-expanding body of secondary literature that places those documents in a larger context. By "documents," historians typically mean all forms of evidence-not just written texts, but artifacts, images, statistics, oral recollections, the built and natural environment, and many other things-that have survived as records of former times. By "secondary literature," we typically mean all subsequent interpretations of those former times based on the evidence contained in primary documents. This distinction between primary and secondary sources is among the most fundamental that historians make. Drawing the boundary between them is a good deal more complicated than it might seem, since determining whether a document is primary or secondary largely depends on the questions one asks of it. At the most basic level, though, the professional practice of history means respecting the integrity of primary and secondary sources while subjecting them to critical scrutiny and contributing in a fair-minded way to ongoing scholarly and public debates over what those sources tell us about the past. [from the AHA's Statement of Standards]

Library Instruction