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Early Modern Europe

What are Secondary Sources?

Secondary Sources are secondhand sources.  They were created by historians who drew their information from primary sources.  The most typical types of secondary sources are books and academic journal articles. 

Books at Gorgas Library

Browsing the Gorgas Library

Historians find some of their best books by browsing the shelves.  Open the document below for a guide to browsing the Gorgas Library for history books:

Finding Books on WorldCat


General Journal Collections

Journals: Religious History

You will also be able to find journal articles about religious history in some of the general journal collections. 

Journals: The History of Science

You will also be able to find scholarly articles about the history of science in some of the general journal collections. 


Reference Books: A Great Way to Start Your Research

Reference books consist of encyclopedias and dictionaries that offer concise essays about specific topics.  I recommend using these tools for three reasons:

  • To gain background information about your topic. Maybe you're doing a paper on a topic you don't much about and need to learn about it quickly.  Or you want to know the historical debates over your topic to help you find a thesis you can argue.
  • To glean keywords to use in your searches for primary sources in other resources.
  • To find lists of key books and articles on your topic that you can then look for in other library resources. Reference books are excellent at telling us what the most important books and articles are on a topic.

(You can also use Wikipedia to find keywords and discover other sources, but please avoid using wikipedia essays as sources in your paper!)

Reference Collections

Here are several reference book collections that are good for history topics:



For information about specific historical figures, try these collections: 


Book Review Digest