I need two primary source documents on The Black Death and two secondary source documents on the same topic


Answered By: Amanda Roper
Last Updated: Dec 12, 2016     Views: 23669

First of all, I want to make sure you understand the difference between a primary and secondary resource; once you're clear on that it will make finding resources much easier. One word of caution, the Black Death occurred in the mid-1300s, but in the mid-1600s another plague occured (often referred to as 'The Great Plague'). If you are strictly looking for the Black Death (or sometimes called the Black Plague) you will want to pay attention to dates.

A primary resource is a document or work created during the time in question. This means it would be a resource created or written in the mid-1300s. The Decameron Web (maintained by Brown University) has gathered several primary texts of first hand plague accounts ( In fact, you might want to at least take a look at The Decameron; written around 1350 by Giovanni Boccaccio, this fictional work follows a group of young people fleeing the Black Death. They essentially imprison themselves and for the next 100 days tell stories to pass the time. It is very similar to Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales in tone and subject. You can find The Decameron full-text, online on Project Gutenberg (

Secondary texts are a breeze! Secondary texts discuss primary texts. There are a host of resources on the Black Death, including medical, historical, and cultural assessments. To get started, visit our online library catalog. Next, search "Black Death". I put the phrase in quotation marks to ensure I get hits on the Black Death and not on every item containing the words "black" and "death". You'll see there are numerous print and ebooks available. For articles, I would visit the History LibGuide for further help (; the databases listed in the History LibGuide are geared toward historical topics and it will help you narrow your search.

Believe it or not, the Black Death still exists today. Obviously it is not of the same devastating proportion, but if going for a historical paper you want to keep an eye on dates as some articles and books may be discussing current instances of the Black Death. 

Comments (1)

  1. This was great help as I had a similar task. Thanks so much!
    by Emily on Jun 23, 2016.

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