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National History Day: Research


Effective Google Search Strategies

How Do You Separate?

-from Finding, Analyzing, and Constructing History: A Research Guide for Students by Library of Congress and National History Day

Facts on File/Infobase

Go to Facts on File or click on the image above.

Facts on File: Login Info 

We pay for the use of EIGHT Infobase/Facts on File databases:

  • History Research Center
  • African-American History
  • American History
  • American Indian History
  • Ancient & Medieval History
  • Modern World History
  • Today's Science
  • World Religions

All of these databases have a read-aloud feature and a citation feature available. 

Please see the document below for the username and password for Facts on File.

Go to or click on the image above.

If you are a Rhode Island resident, has a variety of free resources available to you!

The databases Barrington Middle School students may find helpful for research are:

  • World Book 
  • Explora
  • History Reference Center
  • Biography Reference Center
  • Points of View Reference Center

Many of these databases have a "read to me" feature and a citation generator which can be very helpful when doing research!


EuropeAsiaOceaniaNorth AmericaNoneAfricaAfricaNoneSouth America

Go to CultureGrams or click on the image above. 

CultureGrams: Login Info

CultureGrams is a database we have a subscription to through the RILINK consortium. CultureGrams is an online learning resource that provides concise, reliable, and up-to-date information on hundreds of countries, as well as the U.S. states and Canadian provinces. 

More Research Resources

What is Wide Research Video

Close Reading Routines

Website Evaluation

Use credible sources. Experts in the field write credible sources. They are peer-reviewed and fact-checked. If you have questions about your source’s credibility, you need to investigate further. This is especially important when using information collected from the internet. Always complete a website evaluation before using a website. When evaluating websites keep in mind:

  1. Who wrote, published, and maintains the site? Does it contain copyrighted material?
  2. What is the purpose of the site? Does it contain factual information or is the content ONLY opinion?
  3. Is it easy to navigate?

NOTE: This evaluation process applies to ALL sources you plan on using for your project. BE CRITICAL

-from Teacher Resources Middle School Level

Library of Congress Resources

The Library of Congress ( has extensive resources on a wide variety of topics. A simple search for an idea can provide inspiration.

  • Congressional Debates: The Library of Congress houses the important papers of the United States Congress. Legislation and discussions on the House of Representatives and the Senate floors are all contained in the Congressional Record and are searchable at
  • Local History: Searching the history of your hometown might lead to a mention in an important law or court decision. A search of Abington Senior High School (Abington, Pennsylvania) leads to the 1963 Supreme Court decision in Abington School District v. Schempp, striking down the practice of reciting the Lord’s Prayer and other biblical passages in public schools.
  • Historical News: What happened on your birthday 100 years before you were born? Searching Chronicling America (, a collection of America’s newspapers from 1777 to 1963, might reveal an interesting idea. Look closely at advertisements, the pattern of the language used, and the images published for more inspiration.
  • Digital Collections: The Library of Congress has collections of resources grouped by subject. Take an opportunity to visit and explore a collection you find interesting. You can also enter keywords in the “Search” box. Many collections also contain articles and essays to help set the collection into context.
  • Exhibitions: The Library creates and presents exhibitions ( Exhibitions may help you find a topic of interest within a well-curated collection of primary and secondary sources.
  • Blogs: While most of the resources at the Library of Congress are primary sources, a few secondary sources might provide an idea for your project. Consider checking out the blogs written by experts on topics from throughout history and the world at
  • Podcasts: Podcasts are available to help listeners discover the treasures of the Library of Congress through the discussions of experts and their special guests. The podcast page ( provides thumbnail lists of collections of podcasts that might offer an idea for your project covering topics of history, human interest, and the Library’s collections.
  • Audio Recordings

Ask a Librarian - Library of Congress

Secondary Source Definition

Secondary sources retell, analyze, or interpret events. Secondary sources are written after an event is over. So, if you want to research George Washington’s decisions during the winter in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, you would probably need to know some information about George Washington, the American Revolution, and what happened at Valley Forge. Historians call information about the time period that an event happens historical context.

Examples: journal articles, databases, website articles, biographies, photographs

-from Finding, Analyzing, and Constructing History: A Research Guide for Students by Library of Congress and National History Day

Secondary sources put the primary source in context. They help you understand:

  • what the person who created the primary source could have known about the event
  • other related events from the same time
  • why the event mattered over time

Secondary sources help a researcher piece together the puzzle of primary sources.

“Getting Started with Primary Sources,” Library of Congress, accessed August 25, 2021. https://www.loc. gov/programs/teachers/getting-started-with-primary-sources.

Secondary Source Video

Primary Source Definition

primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event.

Primary sources offer a snapshot of a moment in time. Primary sources are fragments. They challenge researchers to work like detectives because they provide one person’s experience of an event. They may be deeply personal. Primary sources tell human history in a way that secondary sources cannot. They are incomplete because they reflect one perspective. Primary sources are a puzzle. They invite a researcher to seek additional evidence. Primary sources may help a researcher ask questions to focus and direct more research.

Examples: Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records, original photographs

“Getting Started with Primary Sources,” Library of Congress, accessed August 25, 2021. https://www.loc. gov/programs/teachers/getting-started-with-primary-sources.


Finding Primary Sources in Secondary Sources

Primary Source Video

Analyzing a Primary Source

Primary Source Analysis Tool

Analysis Tool Example