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History Resources: Home

This guide will help you become aware of high quality information on history.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Replies to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Watch "Reading Like a Historian" from Stanford University (2 min. 26 seconds)

What is a Primary Source?

What is a Primary Source?

DEFINITIONS from the smithsonian institution Archives

Primary source - a document or object that was created by an individual or group as part of their daily lives. Primary sources include birth certificates, photographs, diaries, letters, embroidered samplers, clothing, household implements, and newspapers.

First person testimony - the account of a person who actually participated in an event.   Examples are oral history interviews, diaries, letters, photographs and drawings of events, and court testimony of an eyewitness.

Secondary source - summaries, second-hand accounts, and analyses of events created by someone who did not witness the event, but may have read or heard about it.  Examples may include: books or articles written on a topic, artworks depicting an event, letters or diaries recounting a version of events told to the author by another source. 

Second person or hearsay testimony - an account repeated by someone who did not actually participate in the event.  Examples are newspaper accounts from interviews of observers, letters that repeat a story told to the writer, drawings based on other people’s observations, or a book written about a topic.

Mixed sources - A document that is a primary source may contain both first person testimony and second hand testimony.  An example would be a diary entry that records a person’s eyewitness observations of an event (first person testimony) but also contains additional stories told to the writer by a family member (second hand testimony).  Newspapers often contain a mixture of first and second hand accounts.

It may depend on the question you are asking – The same document can be a primary and secondary source, depending upon the question you ask.  For example, a Baltimore newspaper’s account of Lincoln’s death that includes unattributed accounts of what happened at Ford’s Theater contains second hand testimony, if your question is what exactly happened at Ford’s Theater that night.  But if your question is how people in Baltimore heard about Lincoln’s assassination and what did they hear, then the newspaper is a primary sources for answering that question.

History Classes at Monroe College

History is “a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events" (

This guide will help prepare you for your classes and assignments with resources that we have at the library to help you in your studies.

In the course of your studies here at Monroe College, you might take classes such as:

American History I / American History II (LA130 / LA131)
LA-130: This survey course presents students with a broad overview of the people and events that have shaped America from 1776 to the Civil War. Major ideas, institutions, social groups, and crises are examined in historical context.

LA-131: This survey course offers a broad overview of the people and events that have shaped America from Reconstruction to the present. Emphasis is on the major ideas, institutions, social groups and crises that have helped to shape contemporary America.

Caribbean History (LA135)
LA-135: The Caribbean is a region that has experienced unique major historical and geographical changes. Various populations of people have migrated into the region. Over the years, these groups have interacted with the landscape and transformed it in many ways. This course uses the "eye" of the historian to survey some of these transformations, from the advent of the Amerindians around 500, to the Twentieth Century.

Foundations of Education (ED101)
ED-101: This course is an introduction to the history of education in the United States, including major theorists who have influenced American education. Students explore the concepts, laws, and regulations of the teaching profession in general and special needs education for early childhood through adolescent education. Students gain an understanding of learning and behavioral disabilities, within the foundation of education, from historical, legal, and social constructs. Additional Requirements: 20 hours of field experience. Fieldwork includes observation of Early Childhood learning environments.

History of the New York City Police Department (CJ208)
CJ-208: This course examines the history of policing in New York City from 1625 to the present. Students learn the evolution of security forces in NYC from the Shout and Rattle Watch, through the transformation of the Municipal and Metropolitan Police Departments into the modern NYPD. Newsworthy events, high profile cases, and their impact on the reformation of the NYPD are discussed.  

The Honors Experience (HN150) 
HN-150: This introductory Honors course is required for all students in the Honors Program. It utilizes New York City as a basis for interdisciplinary study of politics, economics, transportation, demographics, science and technology, labor, culture and the arts. The specific themes studied vary each academic year. The course requires extensive reading and writing assignments in conjunction with field trips and site visits to complement coursework. It culminates in the presentation of a final research project.

The Human Rights Movements in History (HN260)
HN-260: This interdisciplinary course uses the study of the Holocaust to investigate causes and lessons of other modern genocides. Readings, films, field trips, and guest lecturers offer students a range of perspectives. Students discuss and research genocidal conditions and responses. The course culminates in a final presentation reflecting students’’ own investigation and analyses. This course fosters the development of a community of scholars, guiding them to become global citizens and "up standers" for social justice.