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In the Spotlight

We Have a New Website
The Bankier Library will be unveiling an updated website on September 7th. To assist with the transition, we will be keeping our old website running concurrently until October 31st. A link to the old website will be provided in the Services for Faculty section of the new site.

Intersession Library Hours
Intersession (Aug 16 – Sept 6)
Mon – Thur: 8:30am – 5:00pm
Fri: 8:30am - 4:30pm
Sat & Sun: Closed
Monday, Sept. 4 – Labor Day Holiday: Closed
Tuesday, Sept. 5 – Fall Convocation: 11:00am - 5:00pm

Library Subscriptions
Recent additions and changes to the library’s electronic resource collections:
The Wall Street Journal

ebrary ebooks platform has been upgraded to ProQuest Ebook Central

Onesource is now known as D&B Business Browser

Encyclopaedia Britannica expires on 7/31;
Humanities International Complete expires on 8/31;
Biography Reference Bank (Wilson) expires on 8/31

Bankier Library Mobile
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Spotlight Archive

Finding Historical Information: From Topic to Full Text

A properly conducted literature review is an important part of a college history research assignment. To assist you, here is a general overview of some of the different types of information sources for undergraduates along with suggested research strategies.
The main types of resources for historical research include:

Ø Reference sources

Ø Secondary sources

Ø Primary sources

These sources can be in paper and/or multi-media formats, including the internet. Systematically examining these materials in a scholarly manner is known as a literature review.

Reference Sources
Formats include
Atlases Bibliographies Databases
Handbooks Subject Encyclopedias

Brief Articles Chronologies Definitions
Lists of useful materials

  • Overviews of topics, definitions, key facts, and background information
  • Short articles or single chapters on topics
  • Often written or edited by historians
  • Often written in language that is easily understood
  • Often provide suggested authors and sources for further reading
  • Some reference materials are available on-line
  • Good starting point for history research assignments
  • Lack of comprehensive detail, brief content
  • Most current information or research not always included
For example...
Reference Books: Bankier Library Reference Collection, 1stFloor
REF DT14.A37435 2005
REF E169.12 .A419
REF CT213 .A68 1999
REF D57 .C252
REF E174 .D52 2003
REF DS405 .E556 2006
REF DS43 .E53 2004
REF CB361 .E52 1999
REF D740 .E516 2005
REF CT113 .G745

Reference database group: Bankier Library Website
Find---Databases/Articles by Topic

History Database Center(Facts On File)
History Reference Center

Reference database group: World Wide Web
Internet History Sourcebooks Project

Secondary Sources
Formats include
Books and Textbooks
Films / videos
Government publications
Journal articles
Website contents

Commentary and analysis
Descriptions of history
Interpretation of history

  • Discussions, presentations about historical people, periods and events
  • Popular history for the general public
  • Scholarly history for the academic community
  • Original research findings and analysis of historical topics written by historians and related scholars
  • Historical perspectives
  • Summaries of historical schools of thought and theories
  • Current news about recent historical findings
  • Comprehensive presentations in books
  • Specific topic presentations in articles
  • Comparison, synthesis and summary of previous works
  • Some books, articles or websites written in language to engage a broad audience; not just historians
  • Some books, articles or websites written in an academic language to engage historians and other scholars
  • Interpretations of history are provided from the author’s particular point of view
  • Quality control - journal articles are reviewed by other historians in the field prior to publication (peer-review)
  • Detailed, in-depth research and discussion of a specific stated topic in scholarly books or journal articles (thesis statement)
  • Refers to additional related writings by historians and other scholars
  • Recent articles can be a source for the most current research
  • Some items are lengthy
  • Interpretations of history are provided from the author’s particular point of view
For example...
Databases: Bankier Library homepage

Find---Books and Videos in the Library
The OPAC or online catalog is the Bankier Library database to find books, films, individual journal subscriptions and web sites selected by the history faculty.

Founding brothers : the revolutionary generation / by Joseph J. Ellis

A people's history of the American Revolution : how common people shaped the fight for independence / Ray Raphael

American Heritage

Crossroads of the American Revolution [electronic resource] : National Heritage Area / Crossroads of the American Revolution Association

Women and Islam [electronic resource] / editor, Hussein Younis ; director, Mahmood Jamal

Bankier Library OPAC link to world-wide newspapers
News and newspapers online [electronic resource]

Find---Databases/Articles by Topic

General purpose databases for a broad variety of popular and academic articles:
New York Times: Lexis-Nexis Academic

Scholarly databases for history and related journal articles::
SocINDEX with Full-Text

Boolean operators

Search in most databases by entering a keyword or a combination of keywords. Most databases use boolean operators. These are helpful to sort through large files of articles. Link two or more strategic keywords to create search statements. The and operator is the most frequently used, but or and not can also be useful, depending on what you are researching. The method for entering boolean searches may differ between databases, but they will essentially perform the same function. Look at the Help screens in the particular database for information about how to search.

AND                                      OR

Enlightenment and "Great Awakening"                negro or  african-american                                                                      

____________  and _____________                   ______________ or ____________


Bacon not Francis

______________ not ____________

AND will narrow your results. Both of the words you search must be in your results.
OR will expand your results. Either or both of the words you search can be in your results.
Use parentheses to group more than one search in a statement. For example:

(social or population) AND (instability or division) AND (colonial and america*)

The asterisk* is sometimes used as a truncation symbol. It will retrieve results with different word endings.
Here, adol* will bring up any words with that beginning, including adolescents or adolescence.
Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase. For example:

“French and Indian War”

Primary sources
These are original materials created by individuals or groups of individuals in history.
Formats include
Books (popular & scholarly)
Government publications
Journal articles (scholarly)
Magazines (popular)
Newspapers (popular)
Website content

Eyewitness accounts
Original research

  • The original correspondence, diaries, documents, images, letters, maps, and other materials created during a particular time in history
  • Can be narrow in focus
  • Can be voluminous, extensive content
  • Can be difficult to read; requires a level of background knowledge in the area
For example...
Reference Books: Bankier Library Reference Collection, 1stFloor
REF E839.5 .H57 2008
REF E173 .M62 2008

Other items in the Bankier Library OPAC

"The good war": an oral history of World War Two / Studs Terkel

In the wake of battle : the Civil War images of Mathew Brady / George Sullivan

20th century [videorecording] / produced by CBS News in association with A&E Network

Reagan: a life in letters / edited, with an introduction and commentary by Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson, Martin Anderson ; with a foreword by George P. Shultz

American memory [electronic resource] : historical collections for the National Digital Library

Online library of liberty [electronic resource]:a project of Liberty Fund, Inc

Evaluating WWW Resources
World Wide Web resources, especially when not from the Bankier Library databases, must be carefully evaluated. 
Criteria used to evaluate resources include the following:
  • Are the authors well-known in the history/scholarly community?
  • Do the authors list their affiliations (i.e., government, organization, university)?
  • Who sponsors or authorizes the web site? Are they reputable?
  • Is the material presented clearly and free from typographical and factual errors?
  • Is a comprehensive list of references included?
Websites about research writing primary sources and secondary sources
Using Primary Sources on the Web

Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students / Patrick Rael, Bowdoin College

Report Writing and Citing Sources
Use the Owl online writing lab from Perdue University all facets of writing.
Use the NoodleTools database to build an MLA or CMS style reference page.

Compiled by Jeanne Vloyanetes
Professor, Bankier Library
Last updated: 11/09