Skip to Main Content
Montana State University - Home Montana State University Library - Home Ask the Library

History Research Guide

Find primary sources, books, scholarly articles and other secondary sources in the field of History.


Welcome to the resource guide for History at Montana State University.  This guide provides a variety of resources for students and faculty in History, including article databases, journals, government information, and websites. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Basic Source Terminology

Historians make distinctions between what they call primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources are firsthand accounts of people present at an event. In effect, they are witnesses of the event... Secondary sources are based on primary sources. AHA

Primary Sources: these are sources created at the time of what you are studying and are often firsthand accounts. For example, some online and physical collections of primary sources include:

Secondary Sources: these are analyses created after the event or era you are studying, and often take the form of journal articles, books, or book chapters written by scholars. Some examples include:

Tertiary Sources: these are guides or reference sources you can use to navigate towards primary or secondary sources, read as an introduction to a topic, or use to find basic common knowledge about an event. Some examples and entry points to tertiary sources include:

History Terms, Vocabulary, Background Information