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HI 481 - Seminar in History Research


This guide is designed to support the thesis assignment in the History senior seminar. Although your individual topics may require specialized sources, the resources described below will provide an excellent gateway for your research. If you need personalized assistance with developing a search strategy or locating information, consider making an appointment with the History liaison librarian.


Background and 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. Some also contain topical essays that can be excellent introductions to a particular subject or time period. 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 list below is not exhaustive; browse the D section of the Reference collection for encyclopedias on specific countries, or events like World War II.


Dictionary of National Biography (Great Britain)
     Ref DA28 .D55

Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450
     Ref JV22 .E535

Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe
     Ref DJK 6 .E53

Encyclopedia of European Social History from 1350 to 2000
     Ref HN 373 .E63

Encyclopedia of Russian History
     Ref DK14 .E53

Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment
     Ref B802.E53 (print version)

Encyclopedia of the Renaissance
     Ref CB361 .E52

Historical Dictionaries of French History
     Ref DC (various call numbers)

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.

Non-Western History

Encyclopedia of African History
     Ref DT20 .E53 (print version)

Encyclopedia of Asian History
     Ref DS31 .E53

Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture
     Ref F1406 .E53 (print version)

Encyclopedia of Modern Asia
     Ref DS4 .E53

Encyclopedia of the Middle East and Northern Africa
     Ref DS43 .E53

New Encyclopedia of Africa
     From Gale Virtual Reference Library

Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World
     Ref DS35.53 .O95


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Geisel Library catalog
To find relevant books, you will probably want to try both Keyword and Subject searching in the library catalog. Start by doing keyword searching on various aspects of your topic. When you find useful books, click on the Subject Headings in their catalog records to identify additional books on the same topic.

By searching WorldCat, you can identify relevant books owned by other colleges and have them delivered to Geisel Library for your use. The best approach is to perform Subject searches on the same Subject Headings that you discovered in the Geisel Library catalog. You can supplement this with Keyword searching on keywords pertaining to your topic.

When you identify a relevant book in WorldCat, you can click on the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link in its WorldCat record. Books requested through WorldCat are usually delivered to Geisel Library in 7–10 days. You will be emailed when your book arrives, and you can check it out for a specified borrowing period.


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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. If the article isn't available, consider clicking on the Interlibrary Loan link to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Within a week, you should receive an email indicating that the article is available to access.

Historical Abstracts
The best place to begin searching. This database provides abstracts to journal articles and books covering world history from 1450 to the present. Use the Historical Period From/To limiter to specify your time period of interest.

Another core history resource. 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, including history.

Arts & Humanities Citation Index  (AHSearch)
This index provides citations and abstracts to more than 1,300 of the most significant journals in the arts and humanities.

Google Scholar
Google Scholar uses the Google interface to unearth articles, books, and conference papers, although only a fraction of the material is available in full text. Use the WebBridge links to check for an item's availability in the library's print or online resources, or to place ILL requests.

International Medieval Bibliography  (On Campus Only)
This searchable online version of the IMB provides comprehensive indexing of scholarly journals and conference proceedings in the interdisciplinary field of medieval studies.

This bibliography pertaining to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400-1700) consists of citations for journal articles, books, reviews, and more. It also offers recent full-text articles of several important journals.

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, with options to limit to specific sections of the newspaper.


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Primary Sources in Print

Primary sources such as diaries, letters, government documents, and old newspaper articles are invaluable for providing a first-person perspective on events and people from the past. To learn more about how to tap into these resources, see the guide on Finding and Using Primary Source Documents.

Note that with most countries, the majority of primary sources will be in languages other than English, so some degree of fluency in a foreign language may be required. However, you may be able to locate English translations of more prominent documents, often within secondary sources such as books about your subject. You may also find diaries, government memos, and other primary source materials written by English speakers (e.g., American or British) that comment on the country you are researching.

When searching WorldCat for primary sources, combine keyword searches on your topic with Subject searches on terms such as sources, memoirs, diaries, correspondence, papers, personal narratives, or pictorial works. These words will typically appear in the subject headings of primary sources.


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Primary Sources on the Web

The following websites offer primary source material related to countries other than the United States. You may also want to conduct keyword searching on your topic in a search engine such as Google. To limit your results to documents from a specific country, go to Google's Advanced Search and limit the Domain to the country's domain abbreviation (for example, .br is Brazil, .ru is Russia, and .es is Spain; for a complete list, see the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority website). You can also limit by Language to limit results to pages that are in English (if desired).

Avalon Project  (Yale University)
A massive repository of digitized primary-source documents in the areas of law, history and diplomacy, organized into collections by century. Focuses on US history, but also includes many documents related to other countries.

British History Online
This digital library consists of core primary and secondary source material spanning the medieval and modern eras of Great Britain. Included are early journals from the House of Commons and House of Lords, county histories, state papers, diaries, and papal documents.

Cold War International History Project
This digital collection consists of a Virtual Archive of primary documents, organized thematically into collections such as East German Uprising and Sino-Soviet Relations. It includes many memoranda, letters, and government reports on the situation in individual countries during the Cold War era.

EuroDocs: Primary Historical Documents From Western Europe
Links to online collections of digitized primary source documents, organized by country.

European History Primary Sources
Maintained by the European University Institute, this site serves as a portal to scholarly websites that host primary source documents on the history of Europe. Links are organized by country, language, period, and subject.

Google Books
Google has digitized several million books and made them accessible through their search engine. Books not under copyright (including most published before 1922, and many books published in other countries) can be read in their entirety, making this website a great resource for primary source material.

Internet Medieval History Sourcebook
Internet Modern History Sourcebook
These sourcebooks of primary source texts are 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 online gateway for humanities research, including an enormous listing of online history resources organized by country and time period.


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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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