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History Research Guide: Massachusetts History

Research help and resources for local, state, national or international history.

Special Colllections

Massachusetts is one of the most historically rich states in the country.  Our libraries, museums and historical societies have collected this history for those who are interested in learning more.  As you do research, these items are some primary sources for you to consider using.  A number are being digitized for access via the web.  Others are still or will always be in their original form.  You may want to check these sites for other library and archive collections. 

Mass Moments

Get Started with Reference Sources

Need a topic, but don't know where to start?  Need some background information to help you build better searches?  Start with some of these reference sources to browse and learn basic information about your topic. 

Online: Forget Wikipedia or random Google searches!  These sites are just as easy to search, but provide you with academic sources that you can include on your bibliography!

Print:  Need something a bit more specific to a certain era or movement?  We've got great reference books here in the library.  Here's a small example of what we've got.  Ask a librarian for help identifying a source that will apply to your area of research. 

Primary Sources

Primary sources can come in a wide variety of forms.  The key is limiting it to works that were created during the scope of the event under study.  Here's a range of what you could find:  books or pamphlets, newspapers or magazines, government documents, organizational records, diaries, letters, scrapbooks, paintings, photographs, maps, oral interviews, sound or video recordings, even websites or blogs.   

Hints -

When searching the library catalog, add keywords like "sources", "personal narratives", "maps" or "photographs" to your topical search to find primary sources here in the library. 

Following are some reputable sites to find primary source materials related to United States history:


17th & 18th Centuries:

19th Century:

Scholarly Articles

Subject Guide

Renée Fratantonio's picture
Renée Fratantonio
HA-106, Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library, Hammond Hall

Citation Management Tool

Citing your sources is one of the most important steps in doing research.  RefWorks will allow you to store and organize your citations as well as easily create your bibliography/references (whether annotated or not) and final paper in the correct style.  

You can use RefWorks to:

  • Organize references
  • Format bibliographies
  • Create a database of your own citations
  • Import references directly from library databases
  • Insert in-text citations, footnotes and bibliographies using the Write-n-Cite tool
  • Share your citations with a group

For LEGACY REFWORKS ONLY:  Off-Campus users will need to entergroup code: RWFSC to get access. Choose the "Export to RefWorks" option in most databases.

Note: You must have popups enabled for RefWorks to work properly.

Chicago/Turabian Style Guides

Chicago/Turabian Style is primarily used for history, but can also be used in other subjects. The Chicago style and the Turabian style are quite similar and often used interchangeably, but they are not identical. Ask your professor or check your syllabus to be sure you're using the right style.

Helpful Chicago/Turabian related sites to assist you with proper citations: