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HIST 101  

Last Updated: Oct 25, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Finding Background Information

  • Issues and Controversies in American History
    Issues & Controversies in American History explores the great issues in American History—issues such as religious freedom in the colonies, Civil War Reconstruction and women’s suffrage. This searchable and interlinked online subscription database delivers concise and balanced articles that provide the background, outcomes and contemporary points of view for the major topics in the American History curriculum. Those articles are supplemented by primary source documents, biographies, timelines, images, statistical charts and encyclopedia survey articles.
  • Credo Reference
    An online reference library that provides access to hundreds of full text titles covering everything from accounting to zoology.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library
    Includes a collection of specialized electronic reference books for multidisciplinary research.

Recommended Databases for Peer Reviewed (Scholarly) Articles

  • Academic Search Premier
    A multidiscipline full text database designed specifically for academic institutions. Includes full text articles from over 4,600 scholarly publications, along with 3,900 peer-reviewed journals
    Archive of scholarly journal articles. Content spans many disciplines, primarily in the humanities, social sciences and life sciences.

Recommended Databases for Primary Sources

  • American Memory by the Library of Congress
    Consists of primary source and archival materials relating to American culture and history. A digital record of American history, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America .
  • America's Historical Newspapers (log-in required)
    American newspapers published in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, offers fully searchable digital facsimiles of nearly 2,000 titles from all 50 states from 1690 - 2000.
  • Annals of American History (log-in required)
    Analyze American history through speeches, writings, and interviews from 1493 through today.
  • Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (log-in required)
    The New York Times from (1851-2008) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue.
  • National Archives' Digital Vault
    This database provides access to thousands of primary sources related to American History.
  • NYPL Digital Collections
    Explore 726,196 items digitized from The New York Public Library's collections.
  • World Digital Library (United States Collection)
    A collaboration of the Library of Congress and UNESCO, this provides digital collections from around the world. This link takes you to the United States' section.
  • MasterFILE (log-in required)
    Contains full text for nearly 1,700 periodicals covering general reference, business, health, education, general science, multicultural issues and much more. This database also contains full text more than 500 reference books, over 81,900 primary source documents, and an Image Collection of over 592,000 photos, maps & flags.
  • Lexis-Nexis Academic (log-in required)
    Searchable access to full-text information from over 5,600 sources. This database includes national, international and regional newspaper sources, federal and state court opinions, statutes as well as company financial information, industry reports and market news.

Library Catalog

Search the Library's Online Catalog: (your search results will open in a new window):

Hint: When searching for primary sources, search for your keyword + a type of primary source.

For example: "vietnam war" AND diaries; civil rights AND speeches


Helpful Search Tips

Advanced Search! When possible, use advanced search. These types of searches will generally help you craft a better, more specific search strategy.

Subject Searching: Find an article that you like? Look for "Subject Terms." Most databases will let you click on subjects, and will return all articles that have been labeled as that subject. You can also use subject terms when crafting your search strategy.

Remember! You don't always get the best results when you do your first search. Look for other possible keywords when browsing through articles, or look up similar words in a dictionary or thesaurus. Research is a process where you keep building on what you have learned before.


Need Help?

Visit us at the Reference Desk! Librarians are availabe all hours that the library is open.


Phone: (619) 421-6700 x5381

Chat 24/7! Get online help from a librarian 24 hours a day.


Search Strategies

A search strategy is what keywords and Boolean Operators you use when searching in a database. For example when searching for articles to answer the question, "What impact has climate change had on birds in California?", a possible search is: 

"climate change" AND birds AND California

Boolean Operators are connector words that can help you narrow or broaden a search.

AND: Narrows a search by requiring all words to be included in a search. Generally you use this with two different concepts, e.g. texting AND driving.

OR: Broadens a search by returning results for one keyword or the other. Generally you use this with two alike concepts e.g. car OR automobile OR vehicle.

NOT: Narrows a search by removing results with the keyword used after "not." An example would be a search for windows NOT Microsoft.

Other search punctuation:

" " (Quotation Marks): Use quotation marks around a phrase that you want to search for, e.g. "animal behavior"

* (Astrisk): Use an astrisk (*) when you want to search for different tenses / forms of a concept, e.g. evol* to search for evolve, evolution, evolutionary. This concept is called "truncation." 


Looking for Statistics?

Cover Art
The Historical Statistics of the United States
Call Number: HA202 .H57 2006 v. 1-5
This is a monumental work of collaborative scholarship providing a comprehensive compendium of statistics from over 1,000 sources recording every aspect of the history of the United States.


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