Annotated Bibliography

Your first major assignment of the semester will be to create an annotated bibliography on a historical question that you define in a field that you find interesting. This is meant to serve as a preliminary research exercise, testing your ability to identify, evaluate, and cite secondary sources — but also as an extension of your exploration of historical fields and personal interests in the past. The annotated bibliography will be due at the beginning of class (hard copy) on Monday, Feb. 20th.


Start by picking a History course offered by Bethel. (Here’s the full list of courses from the catalog — scroll down to HIS.) Now, imagine that you’re taking that class and have been assigned to write a 10-12 page paper on a relatively focused research question that lets you investigate some course topic in greater depth. Now you’re ready to complete the bibliography assignment.


1. At the top of the bibliography, write the name of the course this hypothetical research project is in and (in bold) the research question that you want to answer over the course of gathering your sources and interpreting evidence.

2. Compile a list of ten significant secondary sources that would help you to answer your research question. At least half of these sources should be scholarly works; at least half should be no more than fifteen years old. Add them to your bibliography, using appropriate citation from Turabian’s Manual.

(Note that Turabian is the source of your reading assignment for the coming week: chs. 1 and 3, plus 16-17 to review citation style.)

3. For each source, write 2-3 sentences explaining its significance in helping you to answer the research question. I don’t expect that you read each of these sources in its entirety, but you should review it enough to explain what it has to contribute to your hypothetical research project. Don’t give the same explanations for multiple sources or I’ll question the necessity of including all of them.

Criteria for grading

The bibliography is worth 10% of your grade for the course (50 pts). It will be evaluated on your…

Ability to ask and (start to) answer historical questions: Are you able to define a practicable research question? (Is it too narrow or too broad for a paper of this length?) Is it an appropriate one to ask within the discipline of history? Can preliminary reading of sources help you start to answer the question? (This should be clear from the brief paragraph you write under each entry in the list.)

Ability to locate, identify, and evaluate sources: It should be clear that you can distinguish among primary, secondary, and tertiary sources — with only secondary sources appearing on the bibliography. (You can use tertiary sources to get started with building your bibliography, but don’t cite them here. We’ll come to primary sources at the end of the month.) Moreover, you should recognize the distinction between scholarly sources and other kinds of books and articles. We’ll talk more about these distinctions next week in class.

Ability to use proper citation: See your reading assignment in Turabian’s guide (one of the required texts for this course). Use the bibliography style, not the reference list; remember that a bibliography entry looks different from a footnote; and note that bibliographies should always be alphabetized and proofread. (See also the Writing Expectations in the syllabus on citation.)

Note: you will have a chance to revise and resubmit this assignment; with the grade being an average of the original and revised scores.


One thought on “Annotated Bibliography

  1. Pingback: Video Conversation: Secondary Sources | Intro to History

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