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Critical Assessment of Primary and Secondary Sources

This LibGuide is intended to work through the process of analyzing and assessing primary and secondary sources.

Plagiarism FAQs

UMD Academic Regulations and Procedures - Read this passage from your student handbook!

Avoiding Plagiarism - OWL Guide from Purdue - This emphasizes when to give credit to sources and offers safe practices to follow.

Using the Chicago Manual

Research in the humanities usually prefers one of two citation styles: Chicago or MLA. The Chicago style is which is published in the Chicago Manual of Style while MLA is published in the MLA Handbook, (formerly the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers). The library has copies of the most recent editions of both styles. 

Information on other citation styles can be found on the library's "Citing Sources" page.

Sample citations

It is important to note that neither MLA or Chicago/Turabian provide explicit instructions on how to cite 'archival' primary sources (although they do have guidelines for things like 'unpublished manuscripts' and oral histories), so the following are some guidelines that meet MLA/Chicago standards. Always double check which format your professor prefers and provide the appropriate bibliographic information using that format.  

Always remember that archival material is more complex to identify than books or journal articles making the accuracy of citations more critical: a citation is designed to get a reader back to the original document.

The following elements are the basic information you need for a complete citation in your bibliography:

Author or creator’s name

Title/type of the work


Publication information [if any]

Collection name

Box and Folder



Archival Files:

Silva, Judge Milton. "Letter to Mario Medeiros.  January 24, 1989." Milton Silva personal and professional papers.  MC 93. Box 1, folder 6. Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

“Dedication of Chesed Shel Emes Congregation, 1094”. Chesed Shel Emes Congregation Records, 1903-1970. MC 25.  Box 1, folder 2. Center for Jewish Culture Archives. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.


“Oral History of Rosario Potvin”. Interview by Beatrice Pacheco. October 6, 1980. New Bedford Textile Worker’s Strike of 1928. MC 9.  Box 7, tape 13. Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.


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Claire T. Carney Library
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