Secondary sources interpret historical events within a social or historical context. They rely both on primary sources (to represent the historical event under question) and other secondary sources (to place the event within the context existing research and theories.)
Researchers writing secondary sources may disagree with each other or focus on different aspects of an historical event. Researchers approach historical events through the lens of:
A more complete understanding is gained when multiple sources are consulted.
These resources provide introductions and overviews to historical topics, prominent historians, pivotal works, and key people, events, and locations.
Historiography is the study of historians' research methods and how they arrive at their theories and conclusion. A historiography typically surveys the significant research about a specific historical topic and then offers insight into the how historians' study of a topic have evolved over time including the areas of agreement, points of contention, and emerging theories.
Historiographies can be very dense, referencing many publications and ideas.
Search the journal article databases such as JSTOR, America: History and Life, Diversity Database Suite, and Project Muse for terms describing your historical topic plus the terms: historiography, historiographies, "review essay"
Example: "Bleeding Kansas" AND "review essay"
Pro-tip -- use the asterisk * at the end of a root word to tell a database to search for words with different endings: historiograph* will search both historiography and historiographies.
Example: "Berlin Wall" AND historiograph*
Companions, Guides, and Encyclopedias are books that cover a broad historical topic (American Revolution, African History) and include entries on specific terms, people, events, and locations. Entries will reference key publications and researchers.
Use the search boxes on the Libraries' home page to search for Books & E-Books, using terms that broadly describe your historical topic plus the terms: companion, guide, encyclopedia
Example: "Civil War" AND encyclopedia
The publishers Blackwell, Routledge, Cambridge, and Oxford are well-respected distributors of scholarly companions and encyclopedias. You can also search using the publisher name combined with the era or historical event you are researching.
Example: "Civil War" AND Routledge
Below are some examples of encyclopedias or companions.
Some journals regularly publish historiographies. These include:
Book reviews are included in many journals. Find them in most History databases, including Search It, JSTOR, Project Muse, and America: History and Life.
Most databases provide an option to limit your results to book reviews. They may also label the article as "Review."
Below are examples of journals and websites that focus on book reviews.
K-State Libraries subscribes to many more databases for historians.
History is an interdisciplinary field; you may discover valuable information in our databases for other disciplines.
These databases are not specific to history. Instead, they cover all disciplines. However, history often crosses over disciplines, so if you aren't finding what you need in the more focused databases, try these.