UCB Libraries

WRTG 3020: Language of War

  • Getting Started
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Primary Sources
  • Ask Your Librarians
Useful Library Resources

  • Library Home Page
    The Library web site links to all of the resources (and much more) mentioned in this guide.
  • Find Articles & Databases
    Use this page to find databases by topic or search across multiple databases on particular categories.
  • Chinook, the library catalog
    While the majority of your research will be conducted in databases, you may want to check out the library catalog to see if there are any books, government reports or anything else that might be able to assist you with your project.
Starting your Research

Think before you search! No matter which search tool you use (databases, Google, etc.), it always helps to have a search strategy. A little planning at the beginning of your research process will save time. Frame your search strategy in terms of the data pieces you will need.

Search Strategy Worksheet

Think of alternative words to each of your topics. For example, while something may be called a "war" it is possible that the official government name is different. For example, think of the recent conflict in Iraq. It was officially called "Operation Iraqi Liberation" "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and finally "Operation New Dawn," but generally in the press it was often referred to as the "Iraq war" or "war in Iraq."

Need help finding the history of the war? Try Reference Universe CU or ABC-CLIO CU to find a reference entry on your conflict.

Chinook, Advanced Search

Use your search worksheet in the advanced search to build a more robust results set. Remember "or" expands your results, where "and" reduces the results. When searching the catalog, which is an index not full-text it is useful to use a broader search to start.

See this (Iraq war OR operation Iraqi freedom) and (cost OR budget OR finance) versus (Iraq war OR operation Iraqi freedom) and (cost OR budget OR finance) and (united states OR us) to see the difference adding in terms causes.

Some tips on choosing books:
  • Government resources
    When researching wars you will often find materials from the US government in our catalog. Depending on your topic these can contain a wealth of information. Hearings, which will generally contain the word "hearing" after the ":" can be a wealth of information on the rhetoric of opposing sides. Hearings generally invite viewpoints from each side of the argument and contain not only written statements, but also the Q&A between the members of congress and the attendees.
  • Browse by call number or Subject Heading
    When searching in Chinook Classic (the link above), you have the ability to browse by call number and subject heading. When you find a book that looks useful you can use both these options to help you see if there are other similar resources in the catalog both in print and online.

Find Articles & Databases

Depending on your topic you might find it useful to browse the categories on this page. That being said, there are a few databases that I would recommend for all:
  • America: History and Life CU
    This database focuses, not surprisingly, on America. If the United States or Canada was involved in the war you are studying, this is the source to check out.
  • Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC)
    This is a collection of military articles, defense technical reports, defense theses, defense department reports and much more. It is the place to go to for publications produced by the defense department, it provides a mix of secondary and primary source materials.
  • Historical Abstracts CU
    This database covers world history from 1490 to the present. The only parts of the world it does not cover are the US and Canada.
    If you want a political, economic or public affairs perspective this is the source to go to for articles.
Some tips on choosing articles:
  • Currency
    Peer-reviewed articles take from six months to three years to be published, if you are researching a current topic you are going to find fewer peer-reviewed articles.
  • Using Citations
    Citations can be a very useful tool in two ways when conducting research. If an article has been cited many times, that can help you determine if it is important to the studies in that area. In addition, if you find one article that covers your topic well you can use the citations in that article to find additional information. Google Scholar enables quick checks of citation count and links out to the citations themselves.
  • Evaluating Sources
    Still having trouble determining if a source is credible? Check out the above page for some questions you can ask regarding authors, validity of research and relevance.
Looking for the language used by the individuals involved in the war or at the time of the conflict? Then primary sources can provide you with a wealth of information.

Newspapers can provide you with both an overview of the conflict, but also what people felt about it at the time. If you want opinion pieces, search for "editorials" or "opinion" in these databases.

Government Information
The US government provides a large quantity of information on any conflict it is involved in, this guide will help lead you to the various databases that contain information from the government. One of the best sources of information is Congressional CU which contains full-text information from the United States Congress back to 1789.

Historical Primary Sources

Looking for older materials? This guide will walk you through finding microfilm, using special collections, and much more.

Some tips on searching for primary sources:
  • Language of the Time
    When searching primary sources it is important that you use the language of the time. The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is a very helpful source for finding these terms.
  • Chinook
    The library catalog is actually a rich source of primary source materials, such as diaries, speeches, letters, etc.

Kate Tallman


Leanne Walther


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