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What's so great about primary sources?
Primary sources are firsthand accounts of historical events that allow you unfiltered access into the past. Here are some other reasons to use primary sources:
- Bring you into contact with the firsthand accounts of events.
- Help you relate in a personal way to events of the past.
- Give you a sense of the complexity of history.
- Allow you to see that secondary sources may only represent one of many historical interpretations.
- Expose you to multiple perspectives on issues of the past and present.
- Help you base your research off facts and observations.
- Require you to examine sources thoughtfully.
- Allow you to have a deeper understanding by comparing primary sources with what you already know.
- Demonstrate that we all participate in making history every day, leaving behind our own primary source documentation.
Primary Source Books
These primary source books have been placed on reserve and can be found at the library front desk.
Secondary Source Books
Hiroshima by The US decision to drop an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 remains one of the most controversial events of the twentieth century. However, the controversy over the rights and wrongs of dropping the bomb has tended to obscure a number of fundamental and sobering truthsabout the development of this fearsome weapon. The principle of killing thousands of enemy civilians from the air was already well established by 1945 and had been practised on numerous occasions by both sides during the Second World War. Moreover, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was conceived and built by an international community of scientists,not just by the Americans. Other nations (including Japan and Germany) were also developing atomic bombs in the first half of the 1940s, albeit hapharzardly. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine any combatant nation foregoing the use of the bomb during the war had it been able to obtain one. Theinternational team of scientists organized by the Americans just got there first. As this fascinating new history shows, the bomb dropped by a US pilot that hot August morning in 1945 was in many ways the world's offspring, in both a technological and a moral sense. And it was the world that would have to face its consequences, strategically, diplomatically, and culturally, inthe years ahead.
Call Number: 355.82511909 ROTTE
Hiroshima Nagasaki by In this harrowing history of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, Paul Ham argues against the use of nuclear weapons, drawing on extensive research and hundreds of interviews to prove that the bombings had little impact on the eventual outcome of the Pacific War. More than 100,000 people were killed instantly by the atomic bombs, mostly women, children, and the elderly. Many hundreds of thousands more succumbed to their horrific injuries later, or slowly perished of radiation-related sickness. Yet American leaders claimed the bombs were "our least abhorrent choice"--and still today most people believe they ended the Pacific War and saved millions of American and Japanese lives. In this gripping narrative, Ham demonstrates convincingly that misunderstandings and nationalist fury on both sides led to the use of the bombs. Ham also gives powerful witness to its destruction through the eyes of eighty survivors, from twelve-year-olds forced to work in war factories to wives and children who faced the holocaust alone. Hiroshima Nagasaki presents the grisly unadorned truth about the bombings, blurred for so long by postwar propaganda, and transforms our understanding of one of the defining events of the twentieth century.
Call Number: 940.542521954 HAM
Primary and Secondary Sources
Primary sources are first-hand, authoritative accounts of an event, topic, or historical time period. They are typically produced at the time of the event by a person who experienced it, but can also be made later on in the form of personal memoirs or oral histories. Think original documents.
Secondary sources interpret or critique primary sources. They often include an analysis of the event that was discussed or featured in the primary source.
BBC Video: Atomic Bomb Survivors
For more background information on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki try a simple search in one of these databases:
Gale Virtual Reference Library A database of encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. These reference materials once were accessible only in the library, but now you can access them online from the library or remotely 24/7.
Credo Reference Credo is an easy-to-use tool for starting research. Gather background information on your topic from hundreds of full-text encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri, quotations, and subject-specific titles, as well as 500,000+ images and audio files and over 1,000 videos. Links to other library online reference sites are included on the search results page and include Oxford University Press reference tools, links to our catalog, Britannica online, Salem History and many many more.
Using databases from off campus
You can use any of our databases from off campus if you have the correct user name and password for access. We may not post these publicly, so they reside on a Google Site page that requires your JBS email login for access.
Click HERE to see a clickable list of databases along with their user names and passwords.