Find Research Materials
At this point, you have narrowed your broad topic to the subcategory of most interest to you. You have formed a research question that intrigues you. Your focus from this point forward will be on searching primary and secondary sources in hopes of finding an answer to your question. Individuals who participated in or witnessed an event and recorded that event during or immediately after the event create primary sources. Historians generally use diaries, letters, meeting minutes, and official records as primary sources. Individuals who were either not present when an event occurred or removed from it in time create secondary sources. We use secondary sources for overview information, and to help familiarize ourselves with a topic and compare that topic with other events in history. Secondary sources are a good starting point in the research process. Historians generally use history books, encyclopedias, historical dictionaries, and scholarly articles as secondary sources. Answers to historical questions are rarely simple. Answers usually result from careful interpretation of sources as the researcher makes multiple connections between sources.