Skip to main content

Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing, 5th Edition

Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing, 5th Edition

Anthony Brundage

ISBN: 978-1-118-51531-0

Feb 2013, Wiley-Blackwell

176 pages


The updated fifth edition of Going to the Sources presents a practical guide to historical research and writing for all students of history.

  • Focuses on the basics of historians’ craft, introducing students to concepts including refining a topic, selecting sources, and engaging critically with their reading
  • Appendices illustrate style for footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographical entries, as well as a list of commonly used abbreviations
  • Features a new chapter on the use of non-textual sources for historians, including a case study discussion of the historical importance of D. W. Griffith’s film The Birth of a Nation
  • Addresses how to bring the critical assessment skills of reading to bear on film and other non-textual sources
  • Includes a student-written historiographical essay, with marginal notes for instruction

Related Resources


Request an Evaluation Copy for this title

Contact your Rep for all inquiries

Preface to the Fifth Edition xi

Chapter 1 The Ever-Changing Shape and Texture of the Past 1

Static and Dynamic Concepts of History 1

Revising Our View of the Past 3

New Forms of Historical Consciousness 5

Toward a “People’s History” 6

Minorities and Women Enter History 8

The Annales School and Cliometrics 10

Psychology and History 13

Microhistory and Macrohistory 14

Postmodernism 15

A Multitude of Avenues to the Past 17

Chapter 2 The Nature and Variety of Historical Sources 19

Primary Sources 20

Manuscript sources 20

Published sources 21

Secondary Works 24

Books 25

Essays 27

Articles 28

Dissertations and conference papers 30

Chapter 3 Finding Your Sources: The Online Library Catalog and Beyond 34

The Online Library Catalog 36

Subject Headings, Keywords, and Title Words 37

Creating and Using a Research Bibliography 41

Published Bibliographies 44

Printed and Electronic Indexes and Abstracts 46

Finding Scholarly Essays 51

Other Important Databases 53

Historical Research on the Internet 55

Finding Useful Reference Materials 56

Chapter 4 Getting the Most Out of History Books: Critical Reading and Assessment 59

The Need for More Effective Reading 59

Finding out about Authors 61

Comparing Similar Works of History 63

Reviewing a History Book 72

Chapter 5 Beyond Textual Sources: Historians’ Use of Other Media 74

Words, Images, and the Historical Imagination 74

The Birth of a Nation: Entertainment, Propaganda, and Critical Response 76

Reading, Viewing, Reflecting: A Case Study 84

The Evolving Integration of Text and Image 87

Chapter 6 Exploring Changing Interpretations: The Historiographic Essay 89

Selecting and Refining a Topic 90

Research for a Historiographic Essay: A Case Study 91

Writing the Historiographic Essay 95

Alternative Approaches 110

Chapter 7 Engaging with Primary Sources: The Research Paper 112

Searching for a Viable Topic 113

Finding Primary Sources 114

Approaching Your Reading 116

Notetaking 117

The Outline and Structure of Your Paper 121

Some Elements of Effective Writing 123

An Open Mind and Intellectual Honesty 126

Quoting 127

Footnoting 129

Editing and Revising 132

One Final Look 134

Chapter 8 Conclusion: The Open-Ended Nature of History 136

Appendix A: Published Bibliographies 140

Appendix B: Major Databases for Bibliographic Searching 142

Appendix C: Footnote/Endnote Formatting 143

Books 143

Book by a single author 144

Book by two authors 144

Book by three authors 144

Book by four or more authors 144

Book with author(s) as editor(s) 145

Articles and Essays (Chapters) 145

Journal article 145

Magazine article 145

Newspaper article 146

Encyclopedia article 146

Essay (chapter) 146

Book review 146

Other Types of Sources 146

Dissertation 146

Government document 147

Website 147

Videorecording 147

Footnote Reference to a Previously Cited Work 147

Appendix D: Bibliography Formatting 149

Book 149

Article 149

Essay (chapter) 149

Dissertation 150

Sample bibliography 150

Appendix E: Commonly Used Abbreviations 152

Suggestions for Further Reading 154

Index 156

"This book would be very useful for students at all levels of historical study from year 12 upwards.  As well as practical strategies for approaching historical and research methods, it also provides an interesting insight into what history is, and how the study of history is always evolving. I would consider it an essential addition to humanities collections."  (Reference Reviews, 1 March 2014)

“This manual provides excellent assistance for beginners and more advanced students engaged in the research and writing process in history. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers.”  (Choice, 1 October  2013)