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AMH 2020 - U.S. History 1877 to Present (Bray): Choosing the Right Sources

This guide is designed to help Osceola Campus students with library research as they complete assignments in Professor Bray's U. S. History 1877 to Present classes.

Finding Credible Sources

Before using a source, ask yourself - is this source CRAAP?

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources

In history, a primary source is considered a firsthand account an event by a participant or observer. You may also hear these referred to as an original source or evidence. Primary sources will always come from the time period of the topic you're researching. 


Examples of primary sources are:

Newspaper Articles


Autobiographies and Diaries

Letters and Speeches

Court Cases

Government Publications

Original Research

Historical Artifacts


A secondary source is written as a reflection or critique of primary sources, using primary sources as evidence. This author is not usually part of the event and is writing after the event occurred. 


Examples of secondary sources are interpretations of primary sources in:

Books and eBooks

Journal Articles

Videos and eVideos

Web Sites


A tertiary source is one that cites both primary and secondary resources to create a broad overview of an event or topic. These are often great sources at the start of the research process, used to learn as much as you can about your topic before hitting the library and databases. Tertiary sources should not make up the bulk of your citations.


Examples of tertiary resources are:

Your Textbook

An Encyclopedia

A Bibliography


Fact Books


Is Your Source Credible?

Use the form below to determine if your source is credible.

Formulating Keywords

Use the document below to organize your keyword brainstorming ideas.