Skip to Main Content

Types of Primary Sources Related to Conspiracy Theory & Moral Panic

There are many types of primary sources that illustrate the history of conspiracy theory and moral panic in Canada. Here are a few examples:

Mining Secondary Sources for Primary Source Ideas

Some time spent reading secondary sources on a topic can help you identify leads for possible types and specific examples of primary sources related to your topic. 

TASK: Skim the first few pages of the following article from your course readings. examining both the footnotes and the article text. 

  • Does the article mention individuals or organizations who may have generated primary documents related to anti-Catholicism in Canada?
  • Does the article list any specific primary documents, or types of primary documents you might look for?

Anti‐Catholic Nativism in Canada: The Protestant Protective Association

Advice on Finding Historical Primary Sources

Search Tips for Finding Primary Sources
  • Try LibrarySearch: Add the term sources to other relevant search terms to find primary sources available via the MRU Library.
  • Try Google: Add "primary sources" or "primary documents" to a Google search.
  • When searching WITHIN electronic primary source collection (for example, within any of the collections listed earlier on this page), use terminology common to the historical period you are researching, rather than the modern terms. E.g “Great War” versus "World War I," or  “Dominion Day” versus “Canada Day.” This also applies to terminology relating to racialized groups. 
  • Limit your search to relevant dates when you have the option to do.

Primary Source Collections Related to this Course

The following collections are good starting points for finding documents related to this course. For a more exhaustive list of Canadian primary source collections, visit the Primary Sources for Canadian History tab of this research guide. 

​Canadiana Online: Includes early government documents/legislation, some early newspapers, religious tracts and special interest group publications of various kinds. Best for topics up to the early 20th century. 

Historical newspapers: Newspapers are an accessible form of primary source for those new to this type of research. MRU provides access to numerous papers, including some dating back to the mid-19th century (Toronto Star, Globe and Mail) and earlier.

Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada (Hansard): Includes all verbatim accounts of all debates of the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons from the first session in 1867 to 1994 (House of Commons) and 1996 (Senate). 

Peel's Prairie Provinces: Documents the settlement and development of the Canadian West, with a focus on Alberta, and dating back to the earliest days of exploration in the region. A good source of political and special interest related tracts and pamphlets (e.g. Social Credit). 

University of Calgary Digital Collections - Includes useful sources on the history of  Alberta, including early newspapers, legal history and a local history book collection. For best results, limit your search to only the most relevant collections for your topic. 

Finding Secondary Sources for Canadian History

  • LibrarySearch: This is the main search tool for finding books and journal articles at MRU. Note that print books are now available to borrow via contactless pick up at MRU Library.
  • America History & Life: Use this database to search history-specific journals with a focus on North American history. Try the advance search screen for useful options, including limiting a search to articles discussing a specified historical period.
  • Google Scholar: Use the "cited by" option to find sources citing a particular article. Make sure to adjust and save your Google Scholar settings to link you to Mount Royal University, for the best access to full-text content at MRU.
  • Interlibrary Loan: Place an interlibrary loan request for books and journal articles you discover that are not available in full-text at MRU.

Managing Your Research Sources

Being able to organize your thoughts and navigate large collections of sources/references as you are researching is an important skill. Each researcher must choose the approach that works best for them.

Citation management software products like Mendeley and Zotero (amongst many others) are automated tools that assist researchers in managing their research sources. They allow you to store and manage your references/sources, create citations and bibliographies, and take notes on your sources. See the tabs here for advice on which one might be a match for you. 

Many researchers use less technical methods very effectively - cue cards and handwriting, simpler software such as Word or Excel, or combinations of several methods. You should pick the one that is right for you.

This guide offers some examples and advice on the benefits of each method. 

Reasons to consider Mendeley:

  • Your research consists mainly of pdfs. 
  • Mendeley works well with Chrome and Safari and has a desktop version
  • Cloud storage
  • Mendeley has very well developed social collaboration tools. For example, you can find citations from similar users and search within its crowd-sourced research database
  • Desktop version is installed on all publicly accessible computers at MRU
  • Zotero works better if your research is both html and pdf. Often this is the choice for researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Zotero works well with Firefox. It also has a standalone desktop application
  • Cloud storage
  • Allows easy citation additions from websites like Amazon
  • Well liked interface for tagging and writing notes to accompany citations

If you are not interested in learning a new software product, you might want to consider a more familiar program to help you organize your thoughts and sources. Below are two simple examples.

How I Use Excel to Manage My Literature Review - One researcher explains how she used Excel to manage her PhD literature review. 

Scholarly Research Log - This is a simple, MS Word table based method of keeping track of your sources and thoughts. This could be expanded to create a separate document for each source you read, where you house citation information and your research notes. 

Tips for file management: 

- Establish a systematic way of naming your digital files. You should be able to tell what is in the file without having to open it. 

- Include dates in file names. Be consistent in your approach - e.g., YYYY-MM-DD 

- Include versions in the file name when you begin to draft your paper - e.g., draft1;. draft5

- BACK UP YOUR WORK. Using Google Drive or your MRU H-Drive is a good strategy for avoiding data loss. 


Profile Photo
Alice Swabey
Drop-in help Mondays 12-2 at the Library Service Desk. Appointments available via Google Meet or in-person. Email help is also available.