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HIST U300 - Introduction to Historical Studies: Getting Started

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Key Concepts for Historical Research

Quality historical research will utilize primary and secondary sources within our collection as well as articles from electronic databases and items housed in collections found throughout South Carolina and the United States.

Formats for these materials will include printed books, journal articles (both print and online), primary sources, microfilm and more.

The locations of the resources that will be utilized include the USC Upstate Library, USC Columbia campus, regional repositories, nationwide libraries, electronic databases and reputable Internet sources.

For more advanced research, sometimes it is useful to limit internet searches to primary source material only.  These are often found in government and academic sites (which generally include libraries, as well).  Consider limiting your search to .edu and .gov websites.

Organizing Your Sources

There are different ways to organize sources.  One basic division is between non-written artifacts (remains, buildings, coins, statues, clothing, etc.), and written documents (records, diaries, newspapers, treaties, etc.).  For most courses, you will only need to understand written sources.

Among written sources, historians usually assign three levels of relevance:  PrimarySecondary and Tertiary.  These categories take their names from the Latin for one, two or three steps removed from the original event. 

Library Faculty

Ann Merryman <br>Coordinator of Archives and Special Collection's picture
Ann Merryman
Coordinator of Archives and Special Collection
Office: LIB 273


Main Library: 864-503-5620

Historiography: a definition

nounplural historiographies.

the body of literature dealing with historical matters; histories collectively.
the body of techniques, theories, and principles of historical research and presentation; methods of historical scholarship.
the narrative presentation of history based on a critical examination,evaluation, and selection of material from primary and secondary sources and subject to scholarly criteria.
an official history:
medieval historiographies.
[retrieved from: on 2.22.2016]