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Topical Guides: Humanities Research

Humanities Research > 4: Supporting Data, Documents & Artifacts

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4A: Types of Resources

Data (such as facts or statistics), documents, artifacts (objects) and biographical information related to your topic will provide support, evidence or credence to your research thesis or claims. The best source for your project will depend on what type of information you are researching. For example, biographical information provides context to a subject's life. Data and statistics illustrate trends or provide support for ideas. Artifacts provide visual evidence for your findings.

It is important to distinguish between the two basic types of information: primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources are from the time period you are researching (from the historical context). These sources can include artifacts, statistics, autobiographies or newspapers. Primary sources often form the foundation for a research project. Examples are: American newspapers from 1950, artifacts from an archaeological dig, contracts from 1760, correspondence between Protestant Reformers, Medieval religious texts, etc.

Secondary sources may also form a foundation for research, but more often these sources provide additional support for your ideas. They include Web pages, articles, or contemporary books. The key distinction between primary and secondary sources is that secondary sources interpret primary sources. Textbooks, biographies, and book reviews are good examples of secondary sources.

4B: Examples

American Memory

Multimedia collections of digitized documents, photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures, and text from the Library of Congress's Americana collections. There are currently over 100 collections in the American Memory Historical Collections covering such topics as Agriculture, the African American experience, baseball, presidents, national parks and a lot more.

Internet Archive  

A digital library archiving valuable web resources. Check out the WayBackMachine to see older versons of some sites. Includes texts, audi/vidual items, and more.

History and Politics Out Loud

Audio recordings of prominent political figures in history. Browse by person or search by title of speech, speaker, date, or words within the text of the speech. Listen to the speech with the RealAudio plugin.

September 11 Digital Archives

Collections of photographs, Weblogs, personal stories, videos, discussion groups as well as pointers to other Web sites all about the 9/11 attacks.  Photographs are from a variety of individuals in a position to document the events. This site is meant to preserve the social history of the events and following days.

Internet Ancient History Sourcebook

Provides English translations of ancient texts (such as the Code of Hammurabi), and commentary by scholars over the text.

United States Holocaust Museum

Narratives, photographs, film and sound recordings documenting various aspects of the Holocaust that took place during World War II.

4C: How to Find More

USA.gov

The official U.S. Government portal to over 30 million pages of government information, services, and online transactions. It is a source for finding government documents, reports, and statistical data from a variety of federal sources. Search by key word or use the topical index to browse your way through the documents.

United Nations

The official U.S. Government portal to over 30 million pages of government information, services, and online transactions. It is a source for finding government documents, reports, and statistical data from a variety of federal sources. Search by key word or use the topical index to browse your way through the documents.

Google Book Search

A beta search tool with scanned pages from thousands of all types of books contributed to Google by publishers and libraries. Your keywords can be searched within the full text of books. Only a limited number of pages can be viewed online for books under copyright restrictions. In these cases, see if OSU or an OhioLINK library own the book for borrowing. Books that are no longer under copyright restriction can be read and printed in their entirety online.

Oxford Reference Online (OSU access)

A resource (available to the OSU community by means of subscription) of about 100 dictionary, language reference, and subject reference works published by Oxford University Press. It is a fully-indexed, cross-searchable database of these books.

OSU Library E-Book Collections (OSU access)

These collections are available through the OSU library subscriptions. All titles in these collections can be found through the library catalog, but by connecting directly to a collection, topics and names are searchable within the books.

Activity

Search the American Memory site to find maps from the civil war.

Pop Quiz

Which of the following is NOT a primary source?

Correct answer:[NOTE: Score is not recorded]

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