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CHLS Immigration Research

This guide provides resources for doing immigration research on Latinx and Asian communities after World War II.

Secondary Sources: What are they?

                                Wondering girl

Most journal articles are secondary sources.  They are written by experts/scholars and interpret data/research findings. They can be described as at least one step removed from the event or phenomenon under review. Secondary source materials interpret, assign value to, conjecture upon, and draw conclusions about the events reported in primary sources.

Finding secondary sources

Secondary sources are usually in the form of published works such as journal articles or books, but may include radio or television documentaries, or conference proceedings.

Here is a list of scholarly research databases where you can locate secondary sources for your interpretive essays.

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Also useful:


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Making sense of secondary sources

journal collage                books

Remember, secondary information is being viewed and interpreted through the eyes of the writer/interpreter. This must be taken into account when one is attempting to critically assess the value of the source material.

The following questions might be asked to help ascertain the nature and value of secondary material:

  • How does the author know these details (names, dates, times)?
  • Where does this information come from—personal experience, eyewitness accounts, or reports written by others?
  • Are the author's conclusions based on a single piece of evidence, or have many sources been taken into account (e.g., diary entries, along with third-party eyewitness accounts, impressions of contemporaries, newspaper accounts)?