Skip to Main Content

Latin American History

Approaching historical research

Historical research relies on a wide variety of sources, both primary & secondary, including unpublished material.

Primary Sources
First-hand testimonies from sources who witnessed or experienced an event firsthand.

  • Examples include: a letter, newspaper article, a photograph, a diary, or other ephemera from the time period being studied.
  • Found in public records & legal documents, minutes of meetings, corporate records, recordings, letters, diaries, journals, drawings.
  • Located in university archives, historical societies, and within private institutions or museums. 

Secondary or Scholarly Sources
These are the peer reviewed articles and scholarly books that historians write after they have worked with the primary sources and consulted other secondary articles or books.

  • Can be oral or written
  • Secondhand accounts of events
  • Found in textbooks, encyclopedias, journal articles, newspapers, biographies and other media such as films or tape recordings.

magnifying glassPro tip: as you find primary and secondary sources, see what language they use, and add new terms to your list to help you refine additional searches!

Search strategies

Before you start searching for resources:
Pause to think about what exactly you are searching for. Write down key words, phrases, names and dates that might relate to you topic. When doing historical research, think about historical language as well as modern.

Starting points for searching for Latin American history resources:

By Topic - Type in the keywords that broadly describe your topic.  For example: caribbean banana history
By Title - Type in the first few words of the book title in quotations.  For example: "medicine and politics in colonial peru".
By Author - Type in the last name followed by the first name of the author in quotations.  For example: "rodríguez-silva ileana"

Best Bets

A sampling of journals related to Latin American History. To view a more complete list, visit BrowZine.

Book cover: Ciencias Humanas Book cover: Latin American Antiquity Book cover: Boletin del Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino
Book cover: Revista Izquierdas Book cover: América Latina en la Historia Económica Book cover: Anais do Museu Paulista


Schedule a Meeting with a Librarian

Have questions about the research process? Don't struggle, reach out to a librarian for help! Students interested in research support can book a meeting with a librarian to:

  • Narrow down research topic ideas
  • Find background information
  • Save time getting started with your research
  • Use the library’s collections as well as worldwide and web resources
  • Choose databases for discipline-focused research
  • Learn more efficient searching method

To make an appointment, reach out to a subject librarian specializing in your topic.