This document is intended to aide high school and college students in beginning research papers on World War II. Print and Internet resources are included. Users must keep in mind that the resources listed in this document are recommendations for starting points: the bibliographies of the works mentioned provide a wealth of related information and more in-depth research is necessary to create a balanced and well-researched paper.
Where to Start
There is a great deal of information about the origins, battles, and personal stories of World War II. It is important to begin a search for information by either looking around to find a topic which is interesting or narrowing down a topic already specified. It often helps to think up seach terms, or words that best describe what sort of information you are looking for before you search the Internet or your local library's catalogue. Some terms and topics of interest include:
It is also important to remember the fundamental differences between primary and secondary source material. Primary sources are original documents written or created that are useful in historical analysis. These may include statistics, diaries, and letters. Secondary source material are books that pull together information from primary sources. Biographies, texts, and non-fiction works fall into this category. Generally, a mixture of primary and secondary source materials are used in research papers at the college level; high school papers tend to focus more on secodary materials.
Additionally, it may prove helpful to interview people who lived during the war, if you have access to them. They can often provide interesting insights into the experience.
IPL Indexed Resources
These links also appear in the IPL Reference section. The reference sources that appear below are valuable because they provide factual information as well as a good starting point for research.
On the Internet
There are a great many sources of information on the Internet; however, it is sometimes difficult to determine the authority, or validity, of the information offered. Most often, historical societies and educational institutions offer accurate, generally unbiased historical fact and interpretation. Some excellent sources are:
Different types of print resources offer a range of sorts of information. Non-fiction books feature a wide variety of fact and thought, as well as interpretation. You will most likely find that materials in an academic library setting such as a University library, will be catalogues according to the Library of Congress classification scheme. In a public or high school library, the Dewey Decimal System tends to be more prevalent. In addition to making sure that your information is accurate by checking several sources or one authoritative source (for instance, information that you may find in the Encyclopaedia Britannica may be of higher quality than that which you would find in Bob's Personal Page on World War II trivia), you should also pay attention to how the information presented. Sometimes, writers present their viewpoints to the detriment of the historical evidence. Make sure that you try to present balanced information that is relevant to your topic and not full of invective.
Theory on the origins of World War II:
About the war experience:
On the Aftermath of World War II
Whether you are looking to verify facts or just starting a research paper, quick references can be valuable resources. Examples:
The documents and resources listed in this document are meant as suggestions that will aide in further research. Do not rely only on the materials you find here as they represent a tiny sampling of what is out there.
This pathfinder was created by Lija Bentley