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History Day Research Resources

Online resources for conducting research for History Day projects.

Online Primary Sources

Evaluating online primary sources

Questions to ask when you think you've located a primary source online

  • Where is it? Ideally, you want to use the websites of trusted repositories.
    • Is the website for a cultural heritage institution? (library, archive, museum, historic property, historical society, etc.)
    • Is the website for an educational institution or a government agency?
    • If you found it on an aggregator site (Digital Public Library of America, Europeana, World Digital Library), where is the physical item located?
    • Some rare materials dealers post high-quality digital versions of their products online to entice buyers. You can potentially use these, but you need additional verification that they are genuine.
  • Have you found an individual item (photograph, letter, oral history) or a collection (papers, correspondence, records)?
    • If you've found an item, does it link to a larger collection to which it belongs? If so, do other items in the collection look useful to your research?
    • If you've found a collection, do individual items look relevant to your research?
  • Is the item actually a primary source? This will depend on your research.
  • Can you access the item online? (If not, please consult this page for advice.)
    • See it, read it, hear it, watch it?
    • If it's handwritten, can you read it or will you need assistance?
    • Is it in a language you understand?
  • Is there information about the item (metadata) available?
    • Title, creator, date, subjects, description, etc.
    • Credible metadata from trusted repositories gives some assurance that the item is genuine and correctly identified
    • It helps you understand the source and helps you cite it in your research
    • If you have any questions about the accuracy of the metadata, please contact the archivist, librarian, curator, etc. We all make mistakes.