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Chicago History Fair 2024: Using Scholarly Journals

Scholarly Journals Are Secondary Sources

Unlike primary sources such as newspapers, diaries or photographs which offer firsthand accounts of historical events, secondary sources synthesize primary sources and other documents. They provide an analysis of a topic from the point of view of a scholar. Typically, scholarly journal articles on historical topics are written by historians with substantial training and expertise.

Scholarly journal articles are useful. They offer other historians' opinions about your topic. And their footnotes and bibliographies can help you find primary sources or other secondary sources.

Sometimes scholarly journals are difficult to understand. They are written by scholars for other scholars. They often use specialized and unfamiliar terms to talk about their topics, and their authors usually assume the readers know a lot about the topic already.

Nevertheless, scholarly journals can open up your understanding of a topic. We've recommended a few options for finding scholarly articles below.

UIC Library Article Databases for Historical Research

History Day students will need staff assistance to access these resources. They can be accessed only from computers at UIC Library.

Database Searching Tips:

  • Many articles are not available in full-text/electronic format but they might still be available in print/paper format in the library. Make sure to copy down the full citation for any article you're interested in so that a librarian can help you track it down
  • When searching, keep it simple! Sometimes a more basic search can actually lead to more useful results. Combine single phrases or words rather than entering long phrases 

Chicago Public Library Article Databases for Historical Research

The Chicago Public Library also provides a number of useful databases for finding articles that are available to anyone with a library card. Once you have a library card, you can search the databases below--and more--from anywhere by simply entering your library card number. Get a Chicago Public Library card

See the list of History & Social Sciences online resources on the Chicago Public Library website. This page also contains information on how to apply for an ecard for access to CPL's online resources (must be 14 or older or apply, or registered by a parent or guardian).