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This guide includes resources for the study and teaching of history.

History Librarian

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Elizabeth Allen
LSU Library, Room 141 A
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-3330

Special Collections/Archival Assistance

Need Help with primary sources or archival materials? LSU Libraries Special Collections has a vast collection on rare books, manuscripts, and other special research materials on a variety of topics. For more information visit their website

You can also make an appointment with one of the Special Collections Librarians. Contact them via email to set up an appointment. 

Alia Kempton:

Zach Tompkins:

Historical Research Process

Historical Research often involves these steps

  1. Identify a topic or research question
  2. Conduct background research on the topic or question
  3. Refine or narrow research topic or question based on background research
  4. Identify primary and secondary sources
  5. Evaluate the sources for relevancy, authenticity, and accuracy. 
  6. Analyze sources and form an argument based on information gathered 

It should be noted that the research process is rarely linear. Many of these steps may occur multiple times throughout the research process. This is normal. 


(Berg & Lune, 2012, 311 and

Primary Sources

Historical Research depends heavily on both Primary and Secondary sources

Primary Sources

Primary sources are contemporary to the time period in which they were created. These sources can give researchers insight into various aspects of the time period in question and can be analyzed in a variety of ways depending on the research goal. 

Examples of Primary Sources include but are not limited to the following:

  • Eyewitness accounts of events
  • Newspapers from the time period
  • Personal papers
  • Legal documents
  • Public records
  • Art work
  • Clothing
  • Contemporary works of literature

You typically find primary sources in archives. Archives can be associated with a larger organization such as a library, university, or government entity. They can also be independently run. 


Secondary Sources

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are resources that are developed through an evaluation of primary source evidence. These can be scholarly or for general consumption. 

Examples of Secondary Sources include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Monographs
  • Encyclopedias
  • Journal articles
  • Newspapers
  • Biographies
  • Documentaries

Secondary sources are typically found among library resources. 

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