UW Oshksoh NHD Homepage


Step 2: Develop a Research Question & Research Secondary Sources

Research Question

The next step in your NHD project is to develop a research question related to your topic. This is the question you will try to answer throughout your project.

Avoid asking broad questions such as What started the US Civil War? or What was the Underground Railroad? These are too broad for you to tackle in your project. Instead ask more specific questions with a focus. Questions like:

How what the role of Wisconsin (or your hometown) in the Underground Railroad?

How did Wisconsin soldiers feel about fighting to abolish slavery?

How did Wisconsin women contribute to the war cause during the Civil War?

After completing this step, you are ready to begin more advanced research.

Research Secondary Sources

Once you have decided on a question, continue your research using secondary sources. Using secondary sources will enhance your background knowledge on the topic and question you selected as well as serve as a base of knowledge before you use primary sources.

Good secondary sources include books, video documentaries, magazines, newspapers, and encyclopedias. Your school or public librarians can help you find the BEST sources to use.

Be careful when you use sources on the internet. Many can be helpful, yet sources such as wikipedia can feature inaccurate data and information. Look to websites from credible sources such as museums, libraries and colleges. If you are unsure about the credibility of your internet source, it is best to ignore it.

With your research question in hand and much of your secondary research behind you, you are ready to begin your primary research, fulfilling this important requirement of NHD projects.

Step 3. Contact the Archivist


1. Preliminary Research and Choose your Topic
2.Develop Research Question
3. Contact the Archivist
4. Decide if Archive Use is Appropriate
5. Plan a Trip to the Archives
6. Researching at the Archives