How do you start looking for your primary and secondary sources?
There are three ways of finding historical sources:
Experienced historians use a combination of all three, but not necessarily in that order.
Snooping is also called browsing, either in a likely section of the library (this is why libraries use classification numbers for their books) or looking through current issues of historical journals. Luck and serendipity play a large role.
Asking a trusted authority or expert is also called using the footnotes and references in a recent scholarly book, article or website on the topic. The author of that work is an expert on the subject and knows what’s been written on the subject. But there are limitations: the most recent work on your subject may be decades old.
Using search tools is the most consistently reliable way to find information on any subject. There are hundreds of indexes and catalogues for finding information about all subjects. McGill’s Library Catalogue and America: History and Life are two important indexes you should use to find historical resources. Each index deals with different kinds of things and these pages will introduce you to some of them.
There are three kinds of strategies to use when searching indexes for primary and secondary sources for this assignment.
Where to start?
Each of the 17 kinds of sources on your list is very different and you will need a different kind of logic to find each one:
Work your way through the sections of this guide. The methodology for each kind of source will be explained on the appropriate pages.