Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Sources for historical research: Historical sources

A guide to finding sources for historical research


Sign in to OneSearch to access our full range of resources.


Use OneSearch to search for:

  • UWA print collection
  • ebooks
  • journal articles
  • exam papers
  • newspaper articles
  • conference proceedings
  • law reports
  • music scores
  • and more

Welcome to the Sources for Historical Research Guide

This guide will familiarise you with resources particularly useful to research material for your History assignments.

Primary and secondary sources

Historical research involves using primary and secondary sources.

In essence, primary sources are the original document, object or data that you are investigating.  Secondary sources are the interpretation, analysis or commentary about a primary source.  

Watch this 2 minute video to learn more about primary and secondary sources.

Video Credit: Proquest Research Companion

This chart shows some examples of the distinction between primary and secondary sources:

  Primary Source Secondary Source
History Bayeux Tapestry Book titled: The Battle of Hastings : sources and interpretations
Anthropology Field notes Article in Journal of African cultural studies
Literature Jane Austen novel Book title: Jane Austen's Literary Manuscripts: A Study of the Novelist's development through the surviving papers
Politics Political cartoon Book titled: Philippine cartoons : political caricature of the American era, 1900-1941

Contact for support

Email your questions to our friendly library staff.


HDR Students

UWA Staff

More contact options are available on the Library Contact us page.



 Except for logos, Canva designs or where otherwise indicated, content in this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.