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Fiat Library: History Day

National History Day

2020 Theme



Provides information on researching at the Historical Society, as well as links to sources.





Videos explaining primary and secondary sources can be found on the Using Primary Sources tab on the Research guide. Click on the link to access the videos.

ABC-Clio American History

Filter search for primary sources so that secondary sources are excluded.

ABC-Clio Ancient & Medieval History

Filter search for "primary sources."

ABC-Clio Modern World History

Filter search results for "primary sources."

Annals of America Primary Sources

Available in print up to 1976; 2012 for database. Browse by year instead of keyword searching and you may find some great sources that you might not have found otherwise.

Gale UXL Student Resource Center Jr

Select "Primary Sources" tab.

World Book

Make sure that you have filtered your search results to show primary sources only. Secondary sources are not permitted as source material, but may be used for background information only (not for notecards).

Annotated Bibliography Final Copy... How to set attributes in Noodle Tools to separate Primary and Secondary Sources

NoodleTools Attributes Directions

NoodleTools will format your sources into Primary and Secondary. The directions below explain how to set the attributes for primary and secondary sources.

1. Enter your sources. Note the box to the left of each source.

2. To tell NoodleTools that the source is secondary: Click on the box next to the source.

3. Go to the bottom of the NoodleTools page and locate "Description: Select an attribute"

4. Using the drop down menu, select: "Secondary source" and "Apply"

5. Repeat for all secondary sources. You can do them individually or all at once.

6. For Primary Sources, follow the same procedure except select: "Primary Source."

Before printing, make sure to select "Primary / Secondary" option from the SORT selection in the upper right of the sources screen.

Definition: Primary Source

As defined by The National History Day organization:

"A primary source is that which is written or produced in the time period students are investigating. Primary sources are materials directly related to a topic by time or participation. These materials include letters, speeches, diaries, newspaper articles from the time, oral history interviews, documents, photographs, artifacts, or anything else that provides first-hand accounts about a person or event." For more information, see the National History Day rule book.

For videos that discuss the characteristics of primary sources, see the Video box.  This link wil direct you to the Primary source tab of the Research guide (the guide you enter from the photo).  See also other tabs at the same guide: Research Organizer, Essential Questions, Evaluating Websites, and other important tips for researching.

Definition: Secondary Source

As defined by The National History Day organization:

"Secondary sources are usually published books or articles by authors who were not eyewitnesses or participants in the historical event or period and who base their interpretation on primary sources, research, and study. These sources provide context for a historical event. For example, high school history textbooks and other history books about a particular topic are secondary sources. So are biographies, newspaper retrospectives, and reference books such as encyclopedias. This definition also applies to secondary sources found on the Internet." For more information, see the National History Day rule book.

Library of Congress websites

Library of Congress

American Memory at Library of Congress

World Digital Library at Library of Congress

Primary Sources

There are many primary sources in the Internet. Listed below are some websites to begin your search.

  • AMDOCS - Primary documents for the study of American history. Includes inaugural addresses, speeches, treaties, diaries, etc.indexed by year,
  •  beginning with 1492 up to current year.
  • America in Class - These links from the National Humanities Center provide primary sources according to era. Use the pull down menus after selecting the era.
  • Archiving Early America - Includes texts of founding documents and instructions on how to read 18th century documents. (Includes Advertising
  • Atomic Archive - History of the Atom bomb ~ includes historical documents, treaties and photos of the Manhattan Project, Hiroshima and the Cold War.
  • The Avalon Project- A documentary record from the 15th century through the 21st century.
  • Chronicling America - Newspapers from 1836 to present. The Library of Congress site also includes archived newspapers.
  • Digital History- Documents, multimedia, exhibits. Note: timelines are not primary source documents.
  • DocsTeach - Documents from The National Archives.
  • Great Documents Includes documents prior to the Revolutionary through the 19th Amendment.
  • History Matters - Use the "full search" function or browse over 1,000 sources alphabetically in Many Pasts. Sources also include annotations to place source in context.

           The Internet Medieval Sourcebook - Historical sources from the fall of Rome through

            the Reformation and exploration. Select era from left menu.

        *  Library of Congress

        *  American Memory  at Library of Congress

  • NARA (The National Archives and Records Administration homepage) - View documents such as letters, photos, reports, etc. from our nation's history. The Exhibits page includes primary sources by era. Online resources also includes sources. Also, Docs Teach groups documents by era.
  • Pennsylvania - Digital collection from the commonwealth library.
  • U.S Patent Office - Patents of inventions can be found here. Make sure to use an interpretation worksheet.

Destiny Catalog

 The Fiat LIbrary has an extensive collection of non-fiction, print Reference, database and e-book primary sources. Print resources may be "on reserve" so that all sources are available for all students. Please check with Mrs. Handel regarding checking-out on reserve books. Use Destiny to locate primary sources or browse the shelves. Primary source titles are identified by a yellow "P" sticker.

Web Path Express

Google Books

Many primary sources, including autobographies, that are in the public domain can be accessed from Google Books.

Google Book Search

If you used non-fiction and Reference and the databases and the links above and Web Path Express and you absolutely can't find any sources anywhere else....

Use the Advance Search option and CONTROL for the domain types for the web sites (e.g.  .gov)

Type in your terms in the boxes and then look to the bottom of the screen where it allows you to "Search within a site or domain" and type in .edu or .gov.  The domain search should give you better results.

Remember to evaluate all sources obtained from the Internet for authority, currency and relevance.

Google Web Search

History...It's Your World


Time and Bias Rules

When analyzing primary sources, these two rules must factor into your analysis

Source Interpretation Tools

Download worksheets from The National Archives to help interpret primary sources.

These worksheets can be filled out on-line and printed or saved.

Think like a historian by making sense of historical evidence. It's a bit wordy for middle school but you may be able to glean some tips by skimming the information or by going directly to the "model interpretation" page.

"History is an argument about the past." This interactive website explores how historians interpret sources.

Why NHD?

A national evaluation of National History Day suggests that students who participate in this academic program and competition perform better on standardized tests, are better writers, and are more confident and capable researchers. The report is 61 pages but the benefits from participating in National History Day can be found on pages 21 and 22.