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Guide to Historical Research (UNH Durham): Getting Started

Resources and strategies for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in history.


This library guide was created to support the study of history at The University of New Hampshire.

Please use this guide to help develop your research. If you need additional assistance, please don't hesitate to contact me by phone, email, IM, or Facebook. My office hours during the semester are Monday, 1-4pm and online, Sunday night, from 8-11pm. I can also meet at other times to discuss your research needs or for one-on-one instruction on search strategies and sources.

I also serve as liaison to the History Department, so if you want to purchase or gain access to monographs, periodicals, media, or other resources that are not available at UNH, let me know and we'll determine the best strategy for connecting you with the information you need.

I welcome your suggestions for changes or additions to this guide, as well as those geared towards enhancing services provided by the UNH Library.

Historical Research

This guide is an introduction to selected resources and strategies for historical research.  It covers both primary sources (such as diaries, letters, newspaper articles, photographs, government documents and first hand accounts) and secondary materials (such as books and articles written by historians and devoted to the analysis and interpretation of historical events and evidence).

Historians develop an understanding of the past by examining and interpreting evidence. And evidence comes in many forms, from hand-written, print or electronic texts, to the physical remains of historic sites, recorded data, pictures, maps, and historical objects. The researcher's aim is to locate appropriate sources of information, to analyze them for the information and biases that they contain, and to compare them with other evidence or the findings of other historians.

Even in this online, information rich, electronic age, libraries still play a major role in historical research. This guide is intended to help with locating primary sources in a wide variety of types and formats, as well as secondary sources, which contain the interpretations and analysis of other historians. Both kinds of sources will enable researchers to provide context and to verify both that accuracy or inconsistencies found in their research. 

For additional guidance, see: Hacker, Diane and Barbara Fister. Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age. Sixth Edition. Bedford/St. Martin, 2014.


A Primer for Historical Resarch

Learning to Do Historical ResearchA Primer for Environmental Historians and Others

Environmental historian William Cronon, and his students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have a created an extremely useful website that serves as a basic introduction to historical research. It covers both sources and methods and should serve as a guide for anyone who is interested in exploring the past.

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Bill Ross
Special Collections Librarian

Office: Dimond Library 101D
603 862-0346