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American History: Starting Your Research

Further Resources

What IS a primary source in History?

Often referred to as "first hand" accounts or "original" records, primary sources are the evidence historians use to build interpretations of the past. 
Most primary sources are created at the time an historical event occurred, while others, such as autobiographies, are produced long after the events they describe.
Here are some examples:

maps oral histories artifacts
letters diaries speeches
newspapers autobiographies government records
statistical data photographs motion pictures
sound recordings advertisements  


What is Research?

A good research paper begins with a good question. It is not just an explanation or report about a topic.

1. Brainstorm 3 or 4 possible research questions for your topic.

 Ask yourself:  What do I want to know?  List the questions you have thought of.

2. Draw up an outline of 3 or 4 points (your outline) you will need to cover to respond to your chosen research question.