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HISP 372 United States Ethnic History: Home


Image source: Immigration: the Making of the American people. U.S. Department of State.

This guide was designed for Robert Bell's HISP 372: United States Ethnic History class.  The guide is designed to help you locate the information you need to complete your course assignments.  Step-by-step directions are also provided for using Lakeland's online library resources. The blue tabs across the top of the guide provide access to sections on:

(Guide creator: Teresa Grimm.  Currently maintained by Jamie Kellner.)

Primary & Secondary Sources

​(Video from Minnesota Historical Society.)

Primary Source: Whether or not something is a primary source is determined by how the researcher is using the information. Different fields have slightly different ways of identifying a primary source.

In the humanities (eg., philosophy, religion, history), a primary source is defined as something that was created either during the time period being studied by actual participants or eye-witnesses or  something documented afterward by individuals reflecting on their involvement in the events of that time.**

Examples: diaries, letters, treaties, laws, autobiographies, artifacts, art, photographs, film footage, financial records, and newspapers from the time period.

In the social sciences (eg., psychology, economics, sociology), the definition of a primary source would be expanded to include numerical data that has been gathered to analyze relationships between people, events, and their environment.**

In the natural sciences (eg., physics, chemistry, biology), a primary source could be defined as a report of original findings or ideas. These sources often appear in the form of research articles with sections on methods and results.**

Secondary Source: "A secondary source interprets and analyzes a primary source. A secondary source is one or more steps removed from the event."***

Examples: encyclopedias, history books, articles, films and books by someone not involved directly in the event who is retelling or analyzing the primary source.

**source: Lafette College Library

***source: Princeton Library 


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James Kellner
Distance Education Librarian
W3718 South Dr.
Plymouth, WI 53073
920-565-1038 ext. 2419
John Esch Library | Lakeland University | W3718 South Drive | Plymouth, WI 53073 | (920) 565-1038 ext. 2420