Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources? MLA Citations vs. Chicago Footnotes? Keeping all of this straight can be confusing. This page provides an overview of research and formatting resources that are helpful for history classes to clarify some common student questions. Courses may differ on research and formatting criteria so we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the requirements in the class syllabus and use the following resources in accorance with those specifications. 

Research Resources

The Auraria Library website and your student account give you access to several databases where you can find primary sources.

Getting there is easy:

  • Click here to log into your Auraria Libray account using your CU Denver student credentials
  • Click the "Auraria Library Home" tab and search the library catalog for your research topic or click on "Quick Menu" in the upper right corner
  • Once on the Quick Menu page, click on "database list" under "Find Resources"
  • Select either History, United States or History, World - choose whichever best fits your research topic
  • Browse those databases for your topic, region, or time period and then search the databases using keywords 

What is a primary source? Primary sources of information are those that provide first-hand accounts of the events, practices, or conditions you are researching. In general, these are documents that were created by the witnesses or first recorders of these events at about the time they occurred, and include diaries, letters, reports, photographs, creative works, financial records, memos, and newspaper articles (to name just a few types). Primary sources also include first-hand accounts that were documented later, such as autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories. However, the most useful primary sources are usually considered to be those that were created closest to the time period you’re researching.

The Auraria Library website and your student account give you access to thousands of books and journals where you can find secondary source material.

Getting there is easy:

  • Click here to log into your Auraria Libray account using your CU Denver student credentials
  • Click the "Auraria Library Home" tab and search the library catalog for your research topic using keywords
    • Allow the search to include books as well as journals

What is a secondary source? A secondary source of information is one that was created later by someone who did not experience first-hand or participate in the events or conditions you’re researching. For the purposes of a historical research project, secondary sources are generally scholarly books and articles. Also included would be reference sources like encyclopedias. If you use a secondary source that was published decades ago, it is important to know what subsequent scholars have written on the topic and what criticism they have made about the earlier work or its approach to the topic.

JSTOR Digital Library

  • JSTOR is best for secondary source material becasue it primarily includes scholarly articles from academic journals
    • ​Access to JSTOR is free online. Click here

The Denver Public Library

  • Library cards are free - you can register in-person or online.
  • The Denver Public Library has over twenty locations and thousands of books, journals, and primary source documents
    • Note: some primary source documents can only be viewed in-person at the Central Library (10 W 14th Avenue Parkway Denver, CO)
      • Requesting to view these primary sources is free (with a library card) and simple. Find out more here.

University of Denver

  • University of Denver Library offers access to hundreds of primary source databases
    • Becaust this library is affiliated with a different university, CU Denver students must go to the library in-person to access their databases

Writing Resources

Chicago Style utilizes footnotes or endnotes to give credit to authors and their ideas that are discussed in a student's paper. Chicago Style also specifies the format for bibliography and works cited pages.

  • Examples: Click here see samples of formatting requirements for books, journals, newspapers, websites, chapters of books, and more!
  • Common Questions: Click here to see official answers to your questions about Chicago Style 
  • Full Contents: Read the full Chicago Manual of Style and find more sepcific examples
  • Sample Essay: Download a full essay that demonstrates Chicago style citations (in endnote form)

The Modern Language Association (MLA) Manual of Style uses parenthetical citations to give credit to authors and their ideas that are discussed in a student's paper. MLA Style also specifies the format for bibliography and works cited pages.

  • Examples: Click here see samples of formatting requirements for books, journals, newspapers, websites, chapters of books, and more!
  • Common Questions: Click here to see official answers to your questions about Chicago Style
  • Full Contents: The full version of the MLA Manual of Style is available for purchase from all major book stores and retailers
  • Sample Essay: Download a full essay that demonstrates MLA citations