HIST 3110: Senior Honors Colloquium
- Starting Your
- Finding Sources
in the Libraries
- Finding Sources
Reference resources can be a great place to start when you are developing a new topic. They can provide you with an overview and background information, summarize established knowledge and important facts, discuss key figures, and offer a list of recommended sources or readings.
Reference resources, ranging from the general to the specific, are available to you in print and electronic format and may be found by searching Chinook or looking under the heading History - General, Reference Sources in Find Articles & Databases. Here are a selection that might be helpful:
The ABC-Clio eBook Collection includes the full text of hundreds of reference titles on a great variety of historical subjects from a well-known publisher of history reference works. CU
Reference Universe allows you to search for terms in article titles and book indexes from a staggering array of both print and electronic reference resources and also to restrict your search to those available in the CU Libraries. CU
Tips for Developing a Search Strategy
Before starting your search, break down your topic into discrete concepts that represent its major aspects. These concepts will be used to develop search terms, that is, significant words or phrases (nouns or noun phrases work best) that can be used when searching in online catalogs or research databases. Your search terms will determine the quantity and relevance of results you retrieve.
- For more flexible searching, think of various ways to express these search terms:
- synonyms (related terms)
- broader terms
- narrower terms
- You need to tailor the search terms to the type of material you are searching. When searching for:
- Books and other larger units, broader terms tend to work better because the topics covered by books tend to be more general.
- Journal articles and other smaller units, narrower terms tend to work better because the topics covered by articles tend to be more specific.
- Full text of books or articles, narrower terms or even unique terms like names or places tend to work better because you are searching on the full text.
- Adding terms that represent geographical or chronological facets may be useful.
- If you get too many results, try using narrower search terms or add another facet to your search. If you get too few results, try using broader terms, synonyms or subtract a facet from your search.
- Avoid using redundant or overlapping search terms, e.g. using "19th century" AND "Victorian period", or using "Middle Ages" in the International Medieval Bibliography. This is a common reason for getting too few results.
- Thinking of terms couched in the language of the time period you are studying is particularly important for searching in full-text, primary-source databases. For historical synonyms, consult the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary.
- Now break down your topic into discrete search terms.
- AND: women AND work AND war (must find all terms)
- OR: work OR employment (must find one of the terms)
- NOT: France NOT Paris (must find first term NOT second term)
- Phrases: “Great War” (must find that phrase in that order)
- Synonyms: (work OR employment) AND women
- Truncation and wildcards:
work* will find work, worker, and workers
wom?n will find woman and women
Once you've selected your search terms, think critically about what kind of information resources you need and select appropriate databases in which to search for material. This step is crucial to efficient identification of quality primary and secondary sources for your research.
Though on the face of it a full-text database might always seem like the best source of information, don't be fooled! Sometimes the best source to identify primary and secondary sources on your topic may be one that does not necessarily offer full text for all items it indexes. Choose your databases based on the utility of the content/content indexed for your research, not the form in which the content is accessed.
- Are you looking for primary or secondary sources? Covering what area of the world? During what time period? Find Articles & Databases: History lists a selection of databases by type of sources and geographic area.
Are there other subject areas touching on your topic that might list additional databases with historical aspects? Look in the subject categories on Find Articles & Databases to see.
- Now choose databases that might be relevant for your topic.
You can locate primary and secondary sources for your research in the Libraries by searching the Chinook library catalog. Chinook is where you want to search for books, journals, microforms and other materials but not articles (at least not reliably).
You can see the difference between Chinook Plus and Chinook Classic here. Regardless of which you use, I recommend using the Advanced Keyword Search.
You can see the difference between the Chinook library catalog and library databases here.
The primary sources may include documents (books, letters, etc.) published during the period under study or electronic, microform, and printed collections of these documents published at a later date. Sometimes records for individual primary sources contained in electronic databases or microform sets are in Chinook, but most often the intellectual contents are only available in the databases themselves or through microform collection guides (see "Primary Sources on Microforms" below for more information).
The following tips will help you make the most of your Chinook searching:
- From the full record of a relevant title, you can find similar titles by:
- Looking at the Subjects listed and clicking on the links to find other titles in the catalog with the same subject heading.
- Clicking on the "Nearby Call Numbers" button in Classic or on the linked call number in Plus. This will allow you to virtually browse the collection by showing you what other titles would be shelved next to that one.
- Titles may have different locations in the CU library system, for example, Norlin Stacks, PASCAL offsite, or Norlin Library Periodicals Collection. If you are wondering where these locations are, click on the location link.
- You can use the "Request It!" button to:
Requesting electronic copies of articles and book chapters:
- If a book, DVD, microform title, etc. is checked out or we do not own it:
- Search the Prospector consortial catalog by clicking the brown "Search Prospector to find it in another library" button that appears on the left. You can order a copy of what you want online if is available to be loaned from another Prospector library. Circulation will contact you when it is available for pick-up.
- If the item is not in Prospector, you can order it through ILLiad.
When you search Chinook, you will get a mixed bag of results including both primary and secondary sources.
Try this example:
"world war II "
primary & secondary sources
There are several ways to limit your search to primary sources:
- Add one of the special subject terms that identify primary sources to your search, like sources (more general), correspondence, diaries, narratives, pamphlets, speeches, letters, documents, etc.
"world war II"
mostly primary sources
- Do another search and try limiting the dates of publication, entering the dates bounding your time period. For this search, leave off any special subject terms identifying primary sources from the previous search.
mostly primary sources
- Another approach is to do an Author search for books written by key participants (people or organizations) in the events you are investigating.
None of these strategies will net all primary sources, nor will their results necessarily be entirely exclusive of one another. But they will help you identify subsets of primary sources on your topic inthe Libraries.
The Libraries owns a rich cache of primary sources on microforms that cover all areas of the world. There are different ways you can find out what kinds of sources a microform collection contains, including online guides linked in the Chinook record, printed guides, and tables of contents and indexes that are included on the microforms themselves. Once you have located on which reels items of interest are located, you can order/locate those reels for viewing.
Microform scanners are available in the Research Area on the second floor of Norlin Library. You can make electronic copies of items on microforms and email or save them to a flash drive for free. Microform readers and printers are also available here and in Government Publications.
Some examples of our microform collections are:
- 16th and 17th Century Newsletters
- Popular Newspapers During World War I
- Women at Work Collection From the Imperial War Museum
- Records of the Department of State Relating to World War I and Its Termination
- The Middle East 1856-1947
- Special Operations Executive, 1940-1946: Subversion and Sabotage during World War II
The following Libraries' departments contain substantial material for historical research in addition to what you can find in the regular collections. Not all of the materials in these departments have records in Chinook, so the best policy is to visit and use finding aids that may only be available on site.
- Government Information offers a rich array of primary sources, particularly, but not limited to, those relating to politics, government, and the military.
- Special Collections will also have items of interest on a wide variety of topics. Visit their web page and reading room to discover what they have available.
- The CU Archives holds rich Western Americana collections, especially those pertaining to Colorado. The Archives offers primary sources on topics ranging from mining to the military to women.
Below is a selection of the history databases available for your research.
You can see the difference between the Chinook library catalog and library databases here.
Secondary source databases allow you to identify the existence of materials whether or not the CU Libraries owns them. In addition to larger units like books, you can use them to find smaller units like articles and book chapters that you might not be able to find otherwise.
The standard secondary source databases for history research are America: History and Life for US and Canadian history, and Historical Abstracts for the history of the rest of the world. These databases index a wide range of journals as well as books, book chapters, book and media reviews, and dissertations. You will want to supplement these with additional databases.
America: History & Life with Full Text is a database of literature covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. With selective indexing for 1,700 journals from 1955 to the present this database also provides full-text coverage of more than 230 journals and more than 100 books. Strong English-language journal coverage is balanced by an international perspective on topics and events, including abstracts in English of articles published in more than 40 languages. CU
Historical Abstracts with Full Text is a resource that covers the history of the world (excluding the United States and Canada) from 1450 forward, including world history, military history, women’s history, history of education, and much more. This database provides selective indexing of historical articles from more than 3,100 journals in over 40 languages back to 1955. With access to the full text of more than 380 journals and more than 140 books, Historical Abstracts is unmatched in its scope and breadth of historical and related social science literature. CU
Humanities Full Text
Full text or abstracts of articles, interviews, obituaries, bibliographies and reviews in Archaeology, Art, Classical Studies, Dance, Film, Folklore, Gender Studies, History, Literary and Social Criticism, Literature, Music, Performing Arts, Philosophy, Religion, and Theology. May be searched concurrently with Social Sciences Full Text. CU
These three sources of digitized books are overlapping but also each have unique titles. You can see the entire text of titles that the suppliers deem in the public domain.
You can also search in-copyright titles in HathiTrust and Google Books for occurrences of words. In Hathitrust you cannot look at the actual works, and in Google Books you might see a few pages. Despite these limitations, they can be useful in identifying titles you want to look at and get other ways.
A partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future. There are more than sixty partners in HathiTrust, and membership is open to institutions worldwide. HathiTrust brings together the immense collections of partner institutions in digital form, preserving them securely to be accessed and used today, and in future generations.
The Internet Archive offer permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. It includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages.
If you are looking for a known item, often the easiest way to see if one of these digital libraries has it is to search WorldCat and look at the results under the Internet tab.
Articles and Book Chapters
Once you have located periodical material of interest in these databases, if they do not contain a direct link to full text, look closely at the citation information. Your next steps for getting an article are offered via the "Find it at CU" link if it appears in the database:
- If Find it at CU finds electronic full text, it will present you with a "Full Text Online" button allowing you to access it.
- If Find it at CU thinks it has found electronic full text in an online journal, it will present you with a "Browse Journal" button that allows you to look for it.
- If you cannot immediately get the item electronically and you would really like to access it, click the "Request a copy" link to order an electronic copy using ILLiad.
Click Find it at CU
- If an e-book is not found, click the "Search the library catalog" link below to see if we have it in print.
- If not, go back and use the "Request a copy" link to order from another library using ILLiad.
If an item is not held by the Libraries, there are various ways you can obtain it through ILL. Visit this page for your basic ILL options.
You can see the difference between the Chinook, Prospector, CRL, and WorldCat catalogs here.
Please note the amount of time required to supply the material varies. The decision if and how to loan items is up to the holding library or archive, and many will not loan unique and fragile materials. Articles and book chapters are generally faster than books because the loaning library often chooses to supply them electronically.
The ILLiad interlibrary loan system is used to make many requests:
- Log in using your Identikey, and submit the required information for the items you would like to order.
- The first time you log in you will need to fill out your contact information.
- If you enter ILLiad from a database, it will often supply most of the necessary information automatically.
- Please put in a realistic date by which you can last use the material when you submit your request. If the title cannot be supplied by that date, the request will be automatically cancelled. If the title is supplied, the Libraries will have to pay for the loan whether you use it or not.
Below are some useful catalogs you can use to locate ILL materials, with suggested times you should allow to receive them:
You can see the difference between Chinook and these library catalogs here.
If you have searched Chinook and a book or microform is not located in the Libraries, click on the brown Prospector button in the upper right-hand corner of the Chinook search screen. This action will rerun your search in the catalogs of 20+ academic, public, and special libraries in Colorado and Wyoming. If the item is found, you can order it online through Prospector. You should allow 3-5 days to receive the material.
CRL is a consortium of North American universities, colleges, and independent research libraries that acquires and preserves traditional and digital resources for research and teaching and makes them available to member institutions through interlibrary loan and electronic delivery. Its records are loaded into Prospector, and you can request electronically from there. CRL's loan period is much longer than traditional ILL, and purchase requests can be made for materials that fit in with its collections.
If you cannot find an item in Prospector, search WorldCat. It is the closest thing we have to a national union catalog, and it contains records for diverse materials, including books, microforms, archival material, maps, and visual material. WorldCat is a wonderful resource for discovering new and obscure material on your topic. If you find material that is of interest to you, search Chinook and Prospector to be sure CU or another Prospector library does not already own it. If not, you can order the needed materials from ILLiad via a link in WorldCat that will populate the request form with data. You should allow up to three weeks to receive analog material.
Go directly into ILLiad to make your request. You should allow 1-3 days to receive the material.
Still need help after trying the strategies listed on this guide? Or can't figure out how to use a particular resource? Here are some options for further assistance: