Tertiary sources synthesize existing information on a topic, drawing from primary and secondary sources and summarizing key information in an easy to read format. They can be good starting points for research projects because they provide easily access to key facts, events and issues. They are often known as background or reference sources.
⇒ Types of academic tertiary sources
In the discipline of History, secondary sources interpret and analyze primary sources, and are removed in time from the events they discuss. They can be scholarly or non-scholarly/popular.
Scholarly monographs: Book length scholarly works that discuss a single topic in depth, present original research, and are written by a single author (or occasionally co-authors). Monographs are great for offering both breadth and depth on a particular topic.
Edited collections: Book length scholarly works that are organized by an editor(s), where each chapter is an essay written by a different person presenting their own research, and where the chapters offer different perspectives on a common academic theme.
Scholarly journal articles: A shorter scholarly work (~10-30 pages) published in a single issue of a scholarly journal (which is published on an on-going basis). Journal articles tend to focus on a very narrow aspect of a larger topic.
Try limiting searches by:
Still looking for information or overwhelmed by LibrarySearch results? Use one of history-specific journal article databases on the ARTICLES tab of this guide. Recommended databases:
How to use America History & Life (2:07 min)
All advice in this video also applies to using Historical Abstracts
Primary sources take many forms, and the most appropriate or helpful type of primary source will depend on your topic. Some types of primary sources that are broadly helpful in undergraduate History courses, and relatively easy to find, include:
Laws, policies and official reports: Nazi Nuremberg Laws (Sept. 1935); Royal Commission ... to investigate the facts relating to and the circumstances surrounding the communication, by public officials and other persons in positions of trust, of secret and confidential information to agents of a foreign power. (June, 1946)
Newspaper articles: The Latest War News: A Raid of Stuart's Cavalry Across the Potomac at Williamsport (Sept. 1862)
Organizational records, publications or propaganda: Women's voice against the liquor traffic: Must we wait longer? Has there not been enough of woe and wretchedness . . . Women's Christian Temperance Union 18??.
Memoirs, personal narratives, diaries and letters: Commitment and sacrifice : personal diaries from the Great War
Use terminology from the time period you are studying - e.g., Great War vs. World War, North-West Territories vs. Alberta
If the search tool offers the option to limit by date, use it. Be very specific to the time period you are studying, especially with newspapers.
Primary Sources for History
1:42 - General tips for finding primary sources
4:03 - Finding primary sources in MRU LibrarySearch
5:29 - Finding primary sources via Google
6:55 - Finding primary sources via MRU History Guide, including historical newspapers
Visit the Primary Sources tab of this guide for more advice and access to MRU's digital primary source collections.
Call number: The address for a physical library item, so you can find it on the shelf. In MRU's LibrarySearch, it is displayed below the title of the book. You can follow the locate icon for a map to the book on its shelf.
MRU Chicago Style Citation Resources: Includes a guide for using Chicago style, examples, and instructions for inserting footnotes.