Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
askus Ask us

HSTR120: History of Human Rights

This guide will help you meet the research requirements of HSTR120: History of Human Rights.

Using Secondary Sources

Secondary Sources are very important when seeking primary sources, for a few reasons: 

  • You can find references to primary sources in secondary sources: in footnotes, citations, methods.
  • You can find references to primary sources in secondary sources: as part of the historical narratives.  A law was passed, a treaty drafted, a letter sent, a speech made... 
  • You need as much information as possible about the event and its' context to identify, select, evaluate, and assess primary sources when you find them.  Doing some pre-reading (Encyclopedias, your textbook etc.) to get the facts, identify any key themes or controversies, and context for your event will make using primary sources much easier. 

Pre-Research or gathering facts and context

It's very useful to gather (undisputed) facts and contextual information before you start.  Scholarly encyclopedias or other books can provide useful information such as:

  • Undisputed facts of an event (date, location, events, etc.)
  • Controversies or disagreements about the event 
  • Information about the context of a historical event, and the impact that event had on the world
  • Names and roles of the key people involved in the event, including active players or stakeholders, or those impacted by the decisions of others.
  • Bibliography, or 'further reading' to learn more
  • Notes on the historiography of the event - how historians viewed that event and how that changes over time
  • Key primary sources - documents from the event, or references to memoirs or other later writings

All of this information will help you to find, select, and evaluate the primary sources that you will find. 

Creative Commons License
This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.