Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

US History I Research: Tertiary Sources

First-hand historical documents such as letters, treaties, or diaries.

What are Tertiary Sources?

Tertiary sources are based on secondary sources. Often, they sum up or collect basic information from secondary sources and compile it in one place. Tertiary sources are generally written for people who are not experts in a field. The information they provide tends to be general, and written in clear, easy to understand terms. Examples of tertiary sources include general dictionaries, encyclopedias, as well as commercial products for a general audience. Examples of tertiary sources on Lincoln and the Civil War might include an article in Encyclopedia Britainica on Lincoln's presidency, or Ken Burns' documentary The Civil War.

History specific dictionaries & encyclopedias in the book catalog

A good place to start is with books in our catalog. Many books available at Jefferson College Library are secondary sources. That is, they are scholarlarly, and written on the basis of primary sources, with input from other scholars and experts. Start with archway to search our holdings, and then move to MOBIUS if you cannot find what you are looking for in Archway.

Other Databases

ABC-CLIO Collection


Use the ABC-CLIO databases to gather insight into the myriad experiences of diffferent Americans throughout history. These databases include The African American Experience, The American Indian Experience and The Latino American Experience.


Ask a Librarian