Check our continuation of services webpage for updates related to COVID-19.

HIST 586 - Advanced Seminar in History

These pages provide links and instruction useful for completing assignments in HIST 586 - Advanced Seminar.

Library Research Guide

Secondary Sources & Historiographies

Secondary Sources

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:

  • the time period in which they are written
  • theories or attitudes like manifest destiny, feminism, critical race theory, colonialism

A more complete understanding is gained when multiple sources are consulted. 



Historiographies are a specific kind of secondary source, written to present and summarize trends in historical research on a subject. They can vary in length from a section of an article to whole books.

A variant on the historiography is a bibliography. A bibliography can range from a list of citations on a topic to a book attempting to identify all works published on a particular topic. Bibliographies were more common prior to the Internet, but some are still produced. Depending on your topic, a bibliography from prior decades may fill gaps in the research, particularly for journals not included in databases or out of print books.

Finding Historiographies and Bibliographies
  • Add the term: historiography or bibliography to your topic keywords when searching
  • Find dissertations on your topic. The first or second chapter typically includes a historiography, even if it does not use that term, because doctoral candidates must explain why their research is unique and contributes to the field; this is done by summarizing existing research. (see database ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global)
  • Search the journal History Compass, which primarily publishes historiographies


Searching databases for journal articles & reports

K-State Libraries subscribes to many databases for historians.

Start your search with these history databases:

Other Relevant Fields

History is an interdisciplinary field; you may discover valuable information in our databases for other disciplines.   

American Ethnic Studies

Dissertations & Theses

Government and Law

Searching Widely

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.

Finding articles in JSTOR

Click through each tab for a step-by-step guide explaining how to find articles using JSTOR.

The databases link is located on the Libraries' homepage in the Search It box. 

1. Find databases by name. If you know the name of the database, click on the first letter of it's name. To access JSTOR, click on the letter "J".

2. Find databases by subject/discipline. These are roughly organized by College/Department. For History, click on: Humanities & Social Sciences, then History.

Bonus: Tags are used to label databases with unique features (lexile scores) or types of sources (primary sources, music, or videos) 


how to use databases



Find JSTOR at the bottom of the "J" page. 


Finding J-Stor using databases


Advanced Search offers options to focus your search so that you don't get 100,000 irrelevant articles. 


Screenshot of JSTOR home page with link to Advanced Search

1. Each line is for a separate concept

2.  Insert OR between synonyms or related terms to tell JSTOR that you will accept results with any of those words. 

3. Click "Articles." This removes the hundreds of book reviews that will appear otherwise. 

4. See the next slide for more selections you can make on the bottom of this search page. 



Screenshot of JSTOR Advanced Search screen

5. Limit your search to articles from journals relevant to your topic. (JSTOR's default search looks at all of the disciplines.)

  • Not sure what is included in a discipline? Click the arrow to the left of the check box to reveal a list of all the journals grouped under that heading.
  • You can un-check or check specific titles from this list, too.
  • You can choose multiple disciplines just by checking them.


Screen shot of limiting options on JSTOR's Advanced Search page


  • Article title
  • Author(s)
  • volume: 47, Issue (No. 4) (Winter, 2005) Page numbers: 551-570
  • Journal title
  • Read or download articles
  • Sentences from article that include your search terms

Screenshot of JSTOR search results page



  • Citation tools–saves to programs like RefWorks. Does not create the citation for you.
  • Use the stable URL to share or save the link to the article.
  • The arrow turns the pages.

Screenshot of an article page in JSTOR