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History Research Guide

Resources for research not limited to any particular course topic and tools to support history scholars.

Welcome to historical research!

Portrait photograph of Minnie Maddern Fiske as Becky Sharp. [1910]. Genthe photograph collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Used with permission.

Historical research is an opportunity to find evidence to support your hypothesis using information on events, people and places using a variety of sources.

The tabs on the left break down the basic categories of research sources. For specific assistance, contact me using the box to the lower left.

For course specific guides, please see the Course Guides link.

Proper and ethical use of the evidence you uncover is essential to good scholarship and a common element in all research. Contrary to wide-spread opinion, materials found on the Internet are under copyright unless expressly given a release and not free to use without permission. Unless the item has a Creative Commons license describing the permitted uses, you need to contact the owner for permission and attribute your sources with proper citation. This of course means you must be viewing the item at its original source, not from another site that may or may not have gotten permission to use.

Copyright and Fair Use

The principle of "Fair Use" allows for a limited amount of use for educational (not-for-profit) purposes. Educate to protect yourself both in using others and future use of your own work.

Fair Use Checklist (Columbia University

Image Rights (Harvard University)

How I Learned to Love Fair Use (Mary Minow at Stanford explains how to determine fair use)

Creative Commons Licenses (Allows use in a variety of ways with protection for the creator)


Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct (American Historical Association) applies to students as much as it applies to professionals.

National Council on Public History Bylaws and Ethics

Oral History Society: Is Your Oral History Legal and Ethical? Written for those in the United Kingdom, these guidelines still apply to US historians.

Ethical Blogging: Sourcing Images is oriented towards bloggers, but offers tips on copyright, ethical use, and sources for everyone.


Philadelphia Historical Digital Image Library Statement of Use and Reproduction (Sample of usage permissions)

University of Chicago Author's Permissions Guidelines (publisher of the Chicago Manual of Style)