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History Day: Secondary Sources

Research resources and help for students participating in History Day

secondary sources

Finding Secondary Sources

1. Find the keywords (and related words) from your research question or research topic. 

Example: How did the invention of the printing press affect the exchange of information in Europe? 

Keywords: printing press, Europe, information exchange, invention

Related keywords: Gutenberg, moveable type, literacy, reading, books

2. Choose an information resource to search; this can be a library's catalog, a database, or another resource

Decide what information resource might be most useful; ask your teacher or a librarian for help

Check out the "About" page of online archives to figure out if it covers your topic. 

3. Search the information resource you've chosen using the keywords you created in step one. 

Try out different combinations of your keywords to see which bring back the best results for your research. Record what works best in your research journal. 

4. Repeat until you've found all the information you need to answer your research question. 

Secondary Source Resources

There are many resources to find secondary sources for your History Day Project. Below are some available to you at Cal State East Bay (you can use all of these resources when you are on-campus in the library) that may be of use for your research. 

Book and eBook Resources
  • Search via the Library Catalog (
  • Write down the call number of the item and then find in the library [Maps of the library are available here
  • If it says “Available,” then the book is in the library
  • eBooks you can read on the computer
Databases (Journal Articles, Newspaper Articles & more eBooks)

Suggested Databases for History Research

  • Academic Search Complete (Journal articles)
  • America: History and Life (Journal articles)
  • Historical Abstracts (Journal articles)
  • JSTOR (Journal articles)
  • Project Muse (Journal articles)
  • New York Times (Newspaper articles)
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library (eBooks)
  • Humanities eBook Project from ACLS (eBooks)
America: History and Life Database Timelines (aka CLIO Notes)
  • America: History and Life Database has a feature called CLIO Notes
  • CLIO Notes provide timelines and brief overviews of key developments and events
  • These notes can be useful in refreshing your memory and finding keywords for searches in the databases
Finding Full-Text Articles
  • If you don't see a PDF or HTML full-text link in a database, click the "Find It" button or link. 
  • If available, you will be able to click the database name link to get the article from another of the library's subscription databases.