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HIST288: Survey of Pacific Islands History

Basic Search Techniques

For your essay assignment, you have been given five prompts. If you need library sources to help you think about these questions, an easy way to find them is to use the library's Onesearch Tool (click here), and do some keyword searches. In each of the prompts, there are keywords that you can use to search, as highlighted below.)

1. Mapping Oceania. Discuss where the Pacific is and its categorization. How is it named, mapped and constructed? What type of source and evidence have been used to characterize the Pacific?

2. Roots and Routes: Discuss the first Pacific navigators and what navigational techniques they used. What various migration theories explain when and where they moved and settled? What other evidence is available that points to the origins and initial migration of Pacific Islanders/Hawaiians?

3. The land and sea. Discuss how Pacific Islanders/Hawaiians relate to the land and sea in the past and present. What is the significance of this relationship to Pacific history? Is it helpful to think of Pacific history in terms of how Pacific Islanders/Hawaiians relate to the land and sea?

4. European expansion. Discuss the motivation behind European and/or American exploration and colonization of the Pacific. What was their perception of the region? How did they interact with the region’s people? How does this interaction contribute to labor mobilization, land acquisition and relocation?

5. Pacific Theatre. Discuss WWII in the Pacific and its impacts. What were the major turning points of the War in the Pacific and how did these impact the course of WWII? What were the long-term impacts of WWII in the Pacific? How has the end of WWII encouraged nuclear testing and ushered in an era of decolonization? 

Primary and Secondary Sources

Distinguishing between "primary" and "secondary" sources can initially be confusing, but there are some relatively straightforward ways to tell the difference (although it should be noted that there are always exceptions to these rules--when in doubt, ask your instructor ... or a librarian!):

Primary sources are first-hand accounts of an event or time period. They represent original thinking, reports on discoveries or events, or they can share new information. Often these sources are created at the time the events occurred. 

Secondary sources involve analysis, synthesis, interpretation, or evaluation of primary sources, and are usually created some time after the events in question took place. They often attempt to describe, explain or distill primary sources of information.

Some examples of primary Hawai'i- and Pacific-related resources include:

  • diaries, correspondence, ships' logs

  • 18th and 19th century published voyaging accounts;

  • interviews, speeches, oral histories, autobiographies

  • government documents

  • creative art works, literature

  • newspaper articles and advertisements

  • photographs

Examples of secondary sources include:

  • textbooks

  • dictionaries and encyclopedias

  • biographies

  • scholarly writing (theses and dissertations, or journal articles

  • writing about literature, art works or music
     

Examples of sources that are sometimes primary source and sometimes secondary source materials:

  • Newspapers: An article published in 1893 regarding the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom is a primary source document (because it was written at the time the events it discusses were unfolding); an article published 50 years later, which is either written by someone who was witness to the events of 1893 or includes interviews with people who were there, is a also a primary source document (because it includes first-hand information, being published for the first time). An article on the same subject published in 2020 is a secondary source, which (if the author is a good historian) would rely on primary source documents to recreate the history of those events.