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HI 100 - Introduction to History


This guide is designed to support the various research assignments in Part II and Part III of the Introduction to History class. The resources described below will provide the gateway for your research. If you need further assistance, please stop by the Reference Desk or contact the History liaison librarian.


Research Basics

The Geisel Library website includes a Research Help page, which contains numerous guides designed to teach you the basics of library research. Examples include a guide on how to develop your Research Strategy, and video tutorials on how to locate books and journals in the library. Please take advantage of these resources.


Background & Reference

Reference materials can provide basic background information on your topic and help you identify keywords for further searching; for example, the names of important leaders, places, or events. Many reference resources provide bibliographies at the ends of each entry or volume, which will point you to additional books and journal articles worth exploring.

The following books will help you understand more about the process of researching and writing about history.

The Historian's Toolbox: A Student's Guide to the Theory and Craft of History
     Ref D16 .W62

A Short Guide to Writing About History
     Ref D13 .M294

The following reference books are good starting points for understanding the topics addressed in Part III of this course.

Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery
     Ref E441 .D53

Dictionary of American History
     Ref E174 .D52

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
Find overviews on a wide variety of topics by searching this online encyclopedia.

Encyclopedia of African-American History, 1619-1895
     Ref E185 .E545

Encyclopedia of American Social History
     Ref HN57 .E58

Encyclopedia of the United States in the Twentieth Century
     Ref E740.7 .E53

Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War
     Ref DS557.7 .E53

Oxford Companion to World War II
     Ref D740 .O94 (print version)

Oxford Reference Online: History
This online collection enables you to conduct keyword searching on many of Oxford's reference works in the field of history.

Slavery in America: From Colonial Times to the Civil War, an Eyewitness History
     Ref E441 .S36


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Geisel Library catalog
To find books related to your topic, start by doing Keyword searching in the catalog. Use the Boolean AND to combine together multiple concepts, and use the Boolean OR to expand your search with synonyms and related terms. Use the * (asterisk) as a truncation symbol to retrieve variant forms of a word root; for example, diploma* will catch books with the words "diplomacy" or "diplomatic" in the catalog record. Here are some examples, based on the topics studied in Part III of this course:

  • (nuclear OR atomic) AND ethic*
  • (Dust Bowl OR Great Depression) AND government
  • abolition* AND religion
  • Vietnam War AND (public opinion OR attitude*)

When you find useful books, click on the Subject Headings in their catalog records to identify additional books on the same topic. Books are assigned Subject Headings based on the topics that they cover, so the books you find using Subject searching will often be very relevant to your needs. You can also find additional books by browsing the shelves near a relevant book, since books are organized in the library by subject.


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Journal Articles

As with the book catalogs, search the journal databases using keywords related to your topic, combining concepts together using the Boolean AND and OR operators. Once you find relevant articles, examine the subject headings that have been assigned to them and conduct Subject searches on the ones that seem most potentially fruitful. Be sure to read the bibliographies of articles to identify additional sources worth tracking down.

If there is no link to the full text of the article, click on the WebBridge icon to determine whether the journal is available in the Geisel Library or in full-text via another electronic database.

America: History and Life
This is the place to start. Use this database to locate abstracts to journal articles focusing on United States and Canadian history and culture.

Historical Abstracts
This database provides abstracts to journal articles covering world history from 1450 to the present (excluding North America, which is covered in America: History & Life).

Search here for full-text articles from major journals in the humanities and social sciences, including a number of important history journals.

Academic Search Premier
This multi-disciplinary database is an excellent starting point for finding scholarly journal articles and popular magazine articles on a wide range of topics.


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Newspaper Articles

Newspaper articles can offer firsthand perspectives on major developments in world history. Articles written at the time of historical events can be regarded as primary source material. The two databases below contain full historical runs of two major English-language newspapers.

New York Times - Historical
This database provides full-text access to every article in the New York Times, from 1851 to four years ago. Use the Date Range limiters to narrow your search to a specific time period of interest.

Times of London Digital Archive
This database provides full-text access to every issue of The Times (London) newspaper from 1785 through 1985, except for Sunday editions. It can be searched by keyword and date range.


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Primary Sources on the Web

These websites were handpicked for their relevance to your project. You may also want to conduct keyword searching on your topic in a search engine such as Google to find additional websites, but be sure to look for indications that the site's information is authoritative, objective and reliable. For help with judging the quality of web sources, see Geisel Library's guide to evaluating websites.


American Memory
The American Memory project is a collection of digitized documents, photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures and text from the Library of Congress and other institutions. There are over 100 collections included in the project, which can either be searched with keywords or browsed by topic.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook
This sourcebook of primary source texts is generally arranged by country, period and topic for easy browsing. A vast resource for researching world history.

Voice of the Shuttle: History Resources
This website has a long history as an electronic gateway for humanities researchers, including an enormous listing of online history resources organized by country and time period.

Unit Specific Resources

American Slave Narratives
Read the complete interviews of thousands of former slaves, collected here. They can be searched by keyword or browsed by topic, names, place, or year of birth.

Samuel May Anti-Slavery Collection (Cornell)
This website gathers together over 8,500 important documents relating to the anti-slavery struggle, including pamphlets, leaflets, sermons, position papers, newsletters, Freedmen's testimonies, and broadsides.

Lewis Hine Collection (Univ. of Maryland - Baltimore County)
This digital collection includes nearly 5,000 photographs taken by Hine while documenting the child labor problem for the National Committee on Child Labor. Click on a state to see photos taken there, along with notes about the people and places in the photographs.

American Life Histories (Library of Congress)
Part of the American Memory project, this collection consists of hundreds of first-person accounts of life during the Great Depression, as recorded by the staff of the Federal Writers' Project from 1936-1940.

New Deal Network
The New Deal Network is a database of primary source materials related to the New Deal and Great Depression era. This website includes photographs, political cartoons, and texts (speeches, letters, and other historic documents).

Ground Zero 1945: Pictures by Atomic Bomb Survivors (MIT)
A large collection of drawings accompanied by explanatory text narratives, documenting the experience of bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II (National Security Archive)
This collection of primary source documents includes memoranda, diary entries, meeting notes, and diplomatic communications. Most were written by US government officials, but translations of key Japanese communications and memos are also included.

Documents Relating to American Foreign Policy: Vietnam (Mt. Holyoke)
This website offers a massive chronological listing of links to government documents about the Vietnam War, including memoranda, telegrams, press conference transcripts, presidential addresses, and reproduced versions of the Pentagon Papers.

Virtual Vietnam Archive (Texas Tech)
A searchable online database of nearly 3 million scanned pages of documents pertaining to the Vietnam War. Contents include photographs, letters, and oral histories, with an emphasis on personal rather than governmental documents.

Watergate Trial Conversations
This Nixon Presidential Library webpage offers audio recordings (in MP3 format) of the taped conversations that were introduced as evidence at the Watergate trial, along with transcripts of those conversations.


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Citing Sources

See the library's Citing Sources guide for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.


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