Information on and Examples of NHD Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated Bibliographies — ARE KEY!

They set apart a great project from a good one. Do not underestimate the importance of a strong annotated bibliography!

Each entry includes:

Perfect MLA citation of the source.

A 3 to 5-sentence (can be longer if needed!) description of the source, stating:

  1. What the source is.
  2. How you used the source.
  3. What it helped you understand about your topic.
  4. Why you categorized it as a primary or secondary source.

Information on and Examples of NHD Annotated Bibliographies

Read the important tips for annotated bibliographies on the NHD site.

Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is required for all categories. The annotations for each source must explain how the source was used and how it helped you understand your topic. You should also use the annotation to explain why you categorized a particular source as primary or secondary. Sources of visual materials and oral interviews, if used, must also be included.

List only those sources that you used to develop your entry. An annotation normally should be only 1-3 sentences long.

  • Source (example):
    Bates, Daisy. The Long Shadow of Little Rock. 1st ed. New York: David McKay Co. Inc., 1962.
  • Annotation (example):
    Daisy Bates was the president of the Arkansas NAACP and the one who met and listened to the students each day. This first-hand account was very important to my paper because it made me more aware of the feelings of the people involved.

Classification of primary or secondary source. You should use the annotation to explain why you categorized a particular source as primary or secondary, If that is likely to be at all controversial. Historians do sometimes disagree and there’s not always one right answer, so justify your choice to the judges.

Secondary sources which include primary materials. You also may use the annotation to explain that a book or other secondary source included several primary sources used for the paper. Examples: “This book included three letters between person X on the frontier and person Y back in New England, which provided insight into the struggles and experiences of the settlers.” “This book provided four photos of settlers on the Great Plains and their homes, which were used on the exhibit.” Please note that the materials included in secondary sources, like your text book, are not primary in this instance because they have been taken out if their original context. For example, an image of a painting may have been cropped, or a letter may be missing sentences.

Fuller explanation of credits for documentaries. You are supposed to give credit in the documentary itself for photos or other primary sources, but you can do this in a general way, such as by writing, “Photos from: National Archives, Ohio Historical Society, A Photographic History of the Civil War” rather than listing each photo individually in the documentary credits, which would take up too much of your allotted 10 minutes. You then must use the annotation in the bibliography to provide more detailed information.


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