This guide is designed to tie in with the class assignment to research a particular aspect of the origins of World War I. Start your research by searching the library catalog for useful books, taking advantage of subject headings that correspond to the countries, people, or events that you are investigating. Then search the history and full-text databases for relevant journal articles that focus more narrowly on your particular topics. If you need additional material, use our Interlibrary Loan service to request books and articles from other libraries. Finally, search the Internet to retrieve primary source documents and images that can supplement your essays.
The reference librarians have created a group of Web pages named Research Help, designed to help teach you the basics of library research and to introduce you to Geisel Library. On the Research Help pages, you will find a guide on Research Basics and a helpful guide about Evaluating Web Resources. Please take advantage of these resources.
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 of these also offer nice biographical profiles of key historical figures from the time period.
Some reference resources provide bibliographies at the ends of each entry or volume, which will point you to additional books and journal articles worth exploring. Many of these will be in our collection, but if the "perfect" book/article is not here at Geisel, don't hesitate to request it from another library through our Interlibrary Loan service. Articles often arrive within 3-5 days, while books generally arrive within 1-2 weeks.
Encyclopedia of World War I
Ref D510 .E53
The place to start. Be sure to consult this new five-volume work entirely devoted to the Great War, including one full volume of primary-source documents.
Dictionary of National Biography, Supplements for the 20th Century (Great Britain)
Ref DA28 .D55 Suppl.
Note that a person's biography appears in the volume corresponding to the decade when he or she died. Check the Cumulative Index at the end of a recent volume to determine which volume will discuss a particular historical figure.
Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe
Ref DJK6 .E53
Historical Dictionary of the Third French Republic, 1870-1940
Ref DC337 .H57
Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History
Ref DK41 .M6
Modern Germany: An Encyclopedia of History, People, and Culture
Ref DD14 .M64
New Cambridge Modern History, vol. XII (1898-1945)
Ref D208 .N4
Oxford Reference Online
This database enables you to search within many of Oxford's highly-regarded reference works in the field of history, including the Oxford Companion to Military History and Oxford Companion to British History.
Twentieth Century Britain: An Encyclopedia
Ref DA566 .T835
To find relevant books, you will probably want to try a combination of Subject and Keyword searching in the Geisel Library catalog. Start by conducting Subject searches on some of the Subject Headings listed below. This will find books of a general nature about World War I and the countries involved in the events and diplomatic maneuvering that preceded it. You may also locate additional useful subject headings within the catalog records of the books that you find.
- World War 1914 1918
- World War 1914 1918 - Causes
- World War 1914 1918 - Diplomatic History
- World War 1914 1918 - [Country Name (e.g. Russia)]
- World War 1914 1918 - Sources [for primary source material]
- France - Foreign Relations - 1870-1940
- Germany - Politics and Government - 1888-1918
- Russia - Foreign Relations - 1894-1917
- Russo-Japanese War 1904 1905
You may also wish to perform keyword searching on the names of specific individuals and events of interest. For example, keyword searches on "Schlieffen Plan", "Baghdad Railway", or "Nicholas II" will retrieve several books that address each of those topics. 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. Use the Boolean AND to combine together multiple concepts, and use the Boolean OR to expand your search with synonyms and related terms.
Although Geisel Library has an excellent history collection, you may not find sufficient information on certain of your topics. Thanks to the ready availability of Interlibrary Loan service, you are not limited to using the books available at Saint Anselm. By searching Worldcat (an online catalog encompassing the holdings of thousands of libraries worldwide), you can identify relevant books owned by other colleges and have them delivered to Geisel Library for your use.
One strategy to exploring Worldcat is to perform Subject searches on the same Subject Headings you used in the Geisel Library catalog. See the subjects in the previous section for examples. You may wish to combine these Subject search terms with keywords such as (alliance OR ally), entente, or (diplomacy OR diplomatic). General keyword searching on names and events may also unearth materials of interest, such as biographies or first-hand accounts.
Inside most Worldcat book records is a "Request ILL" link; all you need to do is:
- Click on the Request ILL link.
- Input your name and contact information, including the S number on your student ID.
- Click the Submit button.
- The book will be available at our circulation desk within 1-2 weeks. You will be emailed when it arrives, and you can check it out for the usual borrowing period.
Articles in scholarly journals often provide greater detail than books, but typically with a much narrower focus. To start looking for scholarly articles about your topics in an electronic database, try searching the same keywords you used in the book catalogs, employing the Boolean AND to combine concepts together. As examples, here are a few keyword searches based on topics for this project:
- (France OR French) AND Russia* AND (allies OR alliance)
- "World War" AND German* AND "social democra*"
- (nationalis* OR patrioti*) AND "World War One" AND (cause* OR outbreak)
- "Franz Ferdinand" AND assassinat*
- Balkan War
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. Also, 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. If the article isn't available, consider clicking on the Interlibrary Loan link to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Articles requested via ILL will be delivered to your email inbox within about a week.
The best place to start. It provides abstracts to journal articles, book/media reviews, and dissertations with a focus on world history and culture (excluding the United States and Canada) from prehistoric times to the present.
Academic Search Premier
A broad index providing abstracts and some full-text of scholarly and popular journals for a range of academic areas, including history.
This resource for historical research offers full-text articles from several key journals and conference proceedings, as well as providing historian's links and historical map collections. (Most, but not all, titles are accessible.) Tips for Effective Searching
JSTOR provides the full text of back issues of major journals in the humanities and social sciences. Journal list for: Arts & Sciences I Arts & Sciences II
New York Times
This database enables you to search the full archive of the New York Times back through the first issue in 1851. While not scholarly in nature, newspaper articles from the time period in question offer a contemporaneous perspective on major developments leading up to World War I. They may also include quotations from historical figures.
"Project MUSE provides online, worldwide, institutional subscription access to the full text of more than 200 scholarly journals in arts and humanities, social sciences, and mathematics." Journal List
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
Search this database for citations and abstracts from literature in political science and its related fields, including international relations, law, and public administration / policy.
These websites were handpicked for their relevance to your project. You may also want to conduct keyword searching on your topics in a search engine such as Google, but be sure to look for indications that the site's information is authoritative, objective and reliable.
World War I Document Archive
The place to start. An online repository of primary-source documents from the Great War, whose focus is international in scope. Users can either search by keyword or browse the documents by year or type. It includes treaties, letters, memoranda, diaries, books, and commentaries, among other types of documents. Also available are biographies of major figures. See the Official Papers page for important documents such as the French Yellow Book and British Official Documents on the Origins of the War.
Documents of World War I (Mt. Holyoke)
This is an excellent collection of documents from the period leading up to and during the Great War. Included are alliance agreements, correspondence, and government reports. Many are also available through the World War I Document Archive, but there is also a great deal of unique content.
Foreign Relations of the United States
The Foreign Relations of the United States series is the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions that have been declassified and edited for publication. Search for names or events to find US government perspectives as well as primary source materials like correspondence and memoranda.
Internet Modern History Sourcebook
This web-based sourcebook of primary source texts includes a lengthy page devoted to World War I and the path to war. It has gathered links to primary documents hosted by H-Net and various universities.
Photos of the Great War
This online image database consists of nearly 2,000 photographs from World War I, subdivided by topics such as Aviation, Troops, and Heads of State.
Trenches on the Web
Although this website is privately maintained, it is affiliated with the History Channel and regarded as a reliable source of information on the War. Click on the Reference Library link to see a directory of the site's contents, including brief biographies, documents, and a photo archive.
World War One (BBC)
A well-assembled collection of analysis, documents, images, and newsreels.
See the library's Citing Sources guide for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.