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Secondary Historical Sources

A guide to finding secondary historical sources. Details on using JSTOR, OneSearch, Google Scholar and other search engines. How to order materials via interlibrary loan. How to determine if a journal is both peer-reviewed and well-regarded.

Advanced JSTOR Techniques


Use JSTOR to locate secondary historical sources from high quality history journals and books:


JSTOR allows search operators "AND" and "OR"



"OR" will return articles containing either search term ... e.g. either Kassite or Cassite


"AND" will only return articles containing both search terms. The search Kassite AND Babylonia will only return articles containing both of these words.


The asterisk (allows the search to find articles containing various forms of a word (multiple endings) ... e.g. Babylon* searches for Babylon, Babylonia, Babylonian, Babylonians etc.



To limit JSTOR to scholarly journal articles check the "Articles" option under Item Type

For secondary history sources consider limiting the publication date to 1985

To limit JSTOR searches to history journals check the "History" option under Journal Filter towards the bottom of the search page.

To locate secondary source articles from history journals

  1. Limit Item Type to "Articles"

  2. Set Publication Date from 1985 to present

  3. Under Journal Filter check the box for History

    If your topic dates back to antiquity and the classical world (e.g., Greece, Rome) you may instead wish to check the Classical Studies option under Journal Filter.



To locate possible secondary source books limit the Item Type in JSTOR to "Reviews" and set the Publication Date from 1985 to present. Many of the books found using this technique will need to be requested via interlibrary loan.


To locate high quality secondary source books:

  1. Set Item Type to Reviews
  2. Set the Publication Date to 1985 to present
  3. Check OneSearch to see if Rod Library owns the book being reviewed
  4. Many of the books found using this technique will need to be requested via interlibrary loan




Problems with JSTOR:

  1. JSTOR does not search all history journals
    (other options - OneSearch and Google Scholar)
  2. JSTOR does not search recent issues of journals
    (other options - OneSearch and Google Scholar)
  3. The JSTOR "Reviews" Item Type search identifies only a small fraction of history books.
    (other options - OneSearch and WorldCat)
  4. The JSTOR search engine is rather limited.
    It does NOT search by "subject"
    (OneSearch does allow for subject searching).