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York College of Pennsylvania, Schmidt Library

Schmidt Library: Research Guides

What are you researching?

Narrowing a Topic

One of the most important steps in the research process is narrowing your topic and figuring out how to communicate with websites, databases, and search engines to find what you're looking for.

Start your research With Background Sources! Learn basic facts about your topic using encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other book sources.

Best Places to Start


What is a primary source?

A primary source (also called an original source) is an eyewitness account, diary, article, or any other source of information that was created at the time. For example, if you are studying the American Revolution, an article from a newspaper written during the 1770s would be a primary source on the topic, as would a diary entry from a soldier at one of the battles. Historical documents are often our best sources for primary information.

Primary Sources Databases and Books

Historical Newspapers

Look for newspapers written during the time period you are writing about to find reactions and opinions from the same era.

Statistics help us to support our arguments with data. They allow us to see trends and make predictions.

General Statistics

United States




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