Skip to Main Content

HIS208 History of Japan: Types of Sources

Reference Sources

Why use an encyclopedia?

  • Using an encyclopedia is an excellent way to come up with ideas for topics.  There are lots of subject specific encyclopedias that you can just browse to get ideas. 
  • Encyclopedia articles tend to be short and easy to read but they give you a lot of information.
  • Encyclopedia articles will give you ideas for search terms -- key people, places, or dates. 
  • It's for you to find a topic or get background information.

See the Reference Sources page on this guide for specific sources for Japan.

Secondary Sources

What is a Secondary Source?

Secondary sources analyze a scholarly question and often use primary sources as evidence.

Secondary sources include books and articles about a topic. They may include lists of sources such as bibliographies, that may lead you to other primary or secondary sources.

Use the Table of Contents and Index to find and read the chapter(s) that relate to your topic.  Also, pay attention to footnotes and endnotes that could lead you to other secondary or primary sources.


Primary Sources

What is a Primary Source?

Primary sources include documents or artifacts created by a witness to or participant in an event.  They can be firsthand testimony or evidence created during the time period that you are studying.

Primary sources may include diaries, letters, interviews, oral histories, photographs, newspaper articles, government documents, poems, novels, plays, music, and works of art.  The analysis of primary sources is central to historical research.