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HIS 400 (Kirschenbaum): The Experience of World War II

Research Guide for Lisa Kirschenbaum's The Experience of World War II History 400 course. Created Spring 2015.


Finding primary historical sources can be intimidating!

On the one hand, there are so many options both though the library and on the web. 

On the other hand, your research may take you to a dead end, leading to materials that you can't access (not digitized or behind a pay wall) or to a realization that materials related to your topic simply have not survived. 

This guide focuses on what WCU Libraries has for the World War II era and tips for selecting and using those resources.  it also provides some select ideas for finding resources out of the library.  Your class D2L page also has many specific examples of useful archives and digital collections.




Primary Source Research Process Tips

  1. Get started on your secondary research. What primary sources are they using?  Look for both specific sources for your topic and types of sources you may not have considered before.

    1. This includes looking at Wikipedia!  Not only do I sometimes find good primary and secondary sources cited in Wikipedia articles, but it is a good place for you to gather specifics (people, places, events, things) and dates that make finding primary sources much easier.

  2. Brainstorm ideas and questions.  What types of primary sources could possibly support your topic?  Think both specifics and broad. The more ideas you come up with, the better able you are to handle running into dead ends.

  3. Prioritize what you hope to find.  Start by looking for things that will have the biggest impact on your research, then work your way down to more supplemental materials.

  4. Do your homework.  See stage 1a.  The more background info you have, the more effective your searches will be.

  5. Be methodical.  Use the class D2L guide and my research guide to match up what you hope to find with the most likely places to find them and start working through. 

  6. Invest your time. Primary source research takes a lot of time!

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