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HIST 203 - Canada Since 1867


The purpose of this assignment

The main object of this assignment is for you to learn how to distinguish these different kinds of historical sources and understand why they’re important to the historian.  In order to find the different kinds of sources, however, you will have to use different kinds of logic in different places.  

The second object is for you to have a list of pertinent sources for the paper you will be writing on this topic.  Hence, as you go through the steps, try to find sources on the subject of your paper that will actually be of use in your writing.  This means actually looking at the objects you find, not just accepting what you find in the indexes.

Instructions for this assignment:

  • You have already chosen your topic.
  • Identify one item from each of the following categories relating to your research topic.  Try to identify as many of these 17 categories as you can: you should be able to get most of them, but all forms of information may not be appropriate for every topic. 
  • With these items, prepare a brief bibliography of materials relating to the subject you have selected.  Use the forms of citation in Chicago Manual of Style (details in the sections on Citation Style).  Follow the sample assignment for organizational form. The purpose is not to list everything in the library on your topic but, rather to investigate and identify the range of sources available to the historian.  The sources you find should also be useful for your paper on this same topic.
  • Label each item with the appropriate category from the list below (e.g. “Secondary: Scholarly article”).
  • Very briefly identify the source (e.g. “Catalogue”) where you found the item.
  • There is an example of a completed assignment at the end of these webpages.


Primary sources (Documentation):

a. Contemporary (i.e. at the time of the event) newspaper article,

b. Contemporary magazine article,

c. Government report,

d. Record of House of Commons (or Senate) debates,

e. Record of debates in provincial legislature(s),

f. Literary material (movie, play, poetry, fiction, etc),

g. Historical photograph,

h. Statistical material (census data or other relevant info),

i. Memoir, Diary or Correspondence related to the topic,

j. Map.


Secondary sources (Analysis):

a. Scholarly book, b. Scholarly article,

c. Thesis or dissertation,

d. Scholarly website,

e. Popular book,

f. Popular article,

g. Popular website.


Finding items in each of these categories requires a different logic.  To learn how, use the links to each type of source in the menu on the left.

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