Historians and Their Information Sources

Margaret Stieg Dalton, Laurie Charnigo


This article reports on a survey of historians and a citation analysis undertaken to revisit the questions treated in Margaret F. Stieg’s 1981 article published in College & Research Libraries. It examines which materials historians consider to be the most important and how they discover them. Their attitudes toward and use of electronic materials were also studied. Many characteristics of historians’ information needs and use have not changed in a generation: informal means of discovery like book reviews and browsing remain important, as does the need for comprehensive searches. Print continues to be the principal format. What has changed is that the advent of electronic resources has increased historians’ use of catalogs and indexes in their efforts to identify appropriate primary and secondary sources of information.

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