IB History

Good Topics in IB History:

  1. can be supported with substantial information, including primary sources
  2. discusses origins, purpose, value, and limitations of sources
  3. does not cover events of the last twenty years

Remember: Good topics are researchable, debatable, have a manageable scope/size and are interesting to you! Think about people, places, events and ideas that you want to learn more about.

Examples of debatable questions with history topics:

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History in Dispute – Benjamin Frankel

Addresses debated questions by offering critical perspectives on major historical events, drawn from all time periods and from all parts of the globe.

Google News Archive:

Search old newspapers (think about date, location, and event)

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Google Advanced News Search: Search by location and date

Google Cultural Institute: exhibits and collections from museums and archives all around the world. Check out “Historic Moments” for online exhibits.

Google Scholar & Google Books

Search for academic publications: Follow citations (look up authors or the works they cited!)

 Previews or full text of books may be available here: Search for keywords within text

 Museums and Archives:

Where is your ideal location for primary source information (a city, state, or country? library, museum or archive? university?)

  • Publication Date: April 18, 2013
    Search thousands of texts, images, audio files, video files, and other resources digitized by libraries and other organizations in the United States.
  • Primary materials from countries and cultures around the world (focus on UNESCO member countries). Free of charge and in multilingual format.
  • U.S. History Resources from Libraries, Museums, and Archives
  • Collection of history resource links, categorized and organized (University of California, Santa Barbara)
  • Michigan State University – audio library dating back to 1888
  • The Online Archive of California (OAC) provides free public access to detailed descriptions of primary resource collections maintained by more than 200 contributing institutions including libraries, special collections, archives, historical societies, and museums throughout California and collections maintained by the 10 University of California (UC) campuses.
  • search video, audio, music and text
  • HathiTrust is a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future. There are more than 90 partners in HathiTrust, and membership is open to institutions worldwide.
  • check out exhibits!The European Library is the library aggregator for Europeana, and part of the Europeana family of services.The European Library offers access to the collections of national and research libraries in 46 countries. Researchers can cross-search over 200 million records, including over 24 million pages of full-text content and 10 million digital objects.
  • Over 1,000,000 free ebook titles of the World’s classic literature.
  • U of M digital collections- public

Primary and Secondary Sources:

Primary Sources (social sciences and humanities):

Primary sources of information provide first-hand accounts of the event you are researching. Generally, they are works created by the witnesses or “first recorders” of the event at or near the time it occurred. They are important sources of information to historians.

Examples of primary sources may include:

  • contemporary accounts in newspapers, magazines and other publications from the period in question;
  • letters, diaries, autobiographies or memoirs, photographs;
  • government documents, reports, financial records, memos
  • creative works or other materials. 

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are created by people who were not a witness to the event. They describe, analyze, interpret, or review the event (or the primary source). Secondary sources are likely written years after the event of interest and include additional perspectives and historical context. Recent works are valued because they include criticism and updates to scholarly knowledge on the event or topic of interest.  

Example of secondary sources may include: 

  • scholarly books or articles
  • encyclopedias

Oakland University:

Historical News:

GVRL Suggested Sources:

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American Era’s: 1600-1899: Select a volume using the grey drop-down box. Then use the table of contents below to browse the topics covered for the era.

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American Decades: Primary Documents 1900-1999: Select a volume using the grey drop-down box. Then use the table of contents below to browse the topics covered for the decade.

 American Decades Series: Select a volume using the grey drop-down box. Then use the table of contents below to browse the topics covered for the decade.


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