An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to primary and secondary documents. Each entry should begin with a citation identifying the source in correct Chicago Manual of Style format. Each citation is followed by a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph, or the annotation (100-150 words). The purpose of the annotation is to help you keep your research focused and organized and to inform the reader of the accuracy, quality and relevance of a source.

For a primary source, write a concise annotation that (a) summarizes the content of the document; (b) evaluates the authority or background of the author, (c) comments on the intended audience, (d) contemplates the reason why the document was created, or (e) explains how this work supports your argument.

For a secondary source, write a concise annotation that (a) summarizes the central argument/s and scope of the book or article; (b) evaluates the authority or background of the author, (c) explains how this work illuminates your research topic, or (d) address the historiographical context of your work in relation to the cited source.

Primary Source Example

“Arkansas Negroes Raise Fund to Put Her through College,” Ebony January 1949: p. 15, accessed September 18, 2017. To Bear Fruit for Our Race: A History of African American Physicians in Houston at

This article describes the experiences of Edith Irby, the first black student admitted to the University of Arkansas medical school. Despite the governor’s objections, the state’s white newspapers supported integration as a new era in race relations and as a means to blunt the South’s critics. African Americans in Arkansas made donations to defray Irby’s tuition and living expenses. White alumni supported her admission and white students collaborated without objections, although the first African American admitted to the law school initially was separated physically from other students. This article reveals the African American community’s dedication to advancement through higher education and its willingness to make financial sacrifices toward this goal.  It also suggests that resistance to integration was less violent when it involved professional schools in states on the borders of the South.

Secondary Source Example

White, Richard. Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America. Norton: New York, 2011.

This monograph, written by an American history professor at Stanford, argues that the construction of the transcontinental railroads modernized the nation by imposing new geographies of time and space. He focuses on disreputable entrepreneurs who “railroaded” the federal government and public to finance construction of transportation lines of questionable merit. Neither ethical nor particularly smart, these men established modern lobbying practices. Once the lines were built, they lured farmers to areas not suitable to large-scale commercial agriculture in an effort to increase freight traffic and insure more profits, all leading to environmental catastrophes and social disruptions. Corporate management in this case was dysfunctional and irrational. White argues that railroads also exploited their workers, confirming observations of letter writers about their long hours, poor pay, and unsafe conditions.