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Start your research journey here!

Doing research is a key activity of the History Fair. The sources found will help build knowledge, provide the images, text, and audio-visual evidence to develop an argument, and make the final project come alive.

Every History Fair project must have an annotated bibliography that is based on the research completed, so take good notes and record all the citation information while doing research.  Any time you find something useful in a source, take careful notes including the author, URL, date, and what you learned from the source. This will help you put together your bibliography and avoid plagiarism.

If you are just getting started, be sure to review our Five Steps for a Successful History Fair project. Links to get research coaching will be coming later this year!

Research Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are crucial to History Fair. They include books, documentaries, and magazine, newspaper, or professional journal articles written by historians and other writers. All historians spend time with secondary sources to build basic knowledge and to learn from what others have thought about the topic. Reading different historians’ articles and books will add depth to a project.

There are different types of secondary sources for each stage of research. Follow the Secondary Source Trail.

Secondary sources also have other uses for researchers. First, they contain bibliographies that can be used to find specific books and articles on the topic. Second, many will contain primary sources that can be used in the History Fair project and indicate which primary source collections were used. Take advantage of bibliographies and “follow the footnotes!”

Research Primary Sources

Primary sources make history come alive because they are made for and during the time in history. Actual witnesses and participants also count as primary sources. These sources distinguish a History Fair project from a mere “report” since students must find primary sources and then analyze and connect them to form their own interpretations. The wider and deeper a student goes into primary sources the more they will grasp their subject and gain credibility. Please review The Stuff of History (a handy list of types of potential primary sources).

While some primary sources will be found within secondary sources, History Fair researchers will seek quality sources online through “portals” and digital collections and also will go to Special Collections Libraries and Archives.

Resource Directory

Chicago/Illinois Portals and Digital Collections
National Online Portals with Chicago/Illinois Content
Audio-Visual Resources Online
Discover Special Collections Libraries & Archives


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