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HIST 299: Historian's Craft: Find Background Info

Why background research helps

Getting background information and general facts about your topic is a good way to start your research. This not only helps you better understand your topic, but it also helps you formulate the boundaries of your research and key terms for your thesis statement.  It can be a helpful guide to begin to narrow down your topic into a coherent and specific area.

Definition: Tertiary Sources

Tertiary sources consist of information which is a distillation and collection of primary and secondary sources.

Examples include:

  • Almanacs
  • Bibliographies (also considered secondary)
  • Chronologies
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedias (also considered secondary)
  • Directories
  • Fact books
  • Guidebooks
  • Indexes, abstracts, bibliographies used to locate primary and secondary sources
  • Manuals
  • Textbooks (also considered secondary)

Online Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

General Reference Databases

U.S. History Reference Databases