UCB Libraries


HIST 3415: American Society and Culture, 1940-1960


  • Starting Your
  • Finding Sources
    in the Libraries
  • Finding Sources
    in Databases
  • Interlibrary
  • Further


Reference Resources


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


This is just a selection of the many reference resources available, which range from the general to the specific. You can find more by looking under the heading History - Dictionaries, Encyclopedias and Biographies in Find Articles & Databases or searching in Chinook.

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


American National Biography Online

Biographical work on people from all eras who have influenced and shaped American history and culture. Find profiles of more than 18,000 men and women from all walks of American life, from the well-known to the infamous to the obscure. 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.


+ Tips for Choosing Search Terms
  1. For more flexible searching, think of various ways to express these search terms:

    • synonyms (related terms)
    • broader terms
    • narrower terms
    The Search Strategy Process Worksheet can be quite helpful in helping you develop search terms for your own topic.

  2. 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.
  3. Adding terms that represent geographical or chronological facets may be useful.

  4. 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.

  5. Avoid using redundant or overlapping search terms, e.g. using "19th century" AND "Victorian period" or using "United States" in the America: History & Life database. This is a common reason for getting too few results.

  6. Thinking of terms couched in the language of the time period you are studying is important for searching in full-text, primary-source databases, especially the further back in time you go. For historical synonyms, consult the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary.


+ Combining Search Terms




  • AND: women AND work AND war (must find all terms)
  • OR: work OR employment (must find one of the terms)
  • NOT: Colorado NOT Denver (must find first term NOT second term)



  • Phrases: “World War II” (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

How do I?


You can locate 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.


You can see the difference between the Chinook library catalog and library databases here. (graphic)


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 guide.


+ Chinook Tips


The following tips will help you make the most of your Chinook Classic searching:

  1. 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. This will allow you to virtually browse the collection by showing you what other titles would be shelved next to that one.
  2. 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.
  1. You can use the "Request It!" button to:

  2. There are various, complementary methods for finding primary sources in library catalogs. Use them one at a time:
    • Use subject headings denoting primary sources in your search.
    • Limit the dates of publication to the timeframe under investigation.
    • Search for works by authors who experienced the events under investigation.
  3. Requesting electronic copies:

    • You can order an electronic copy of a book chapter in a book we own through ILLiad.
    • You can order an electronic copy of an article in a print journal we own by clicking on the "Request a PDF (UCB only)" button in the record for the print journal (sample record).
  4. If an item 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.

  5. Use the "Journals/Serials" search to limit your search to journals, newspapers, etc. Make sure to select "All Collections" if you want to switch back to searching the entire catalog.


+ Searching for Periodicals


To limit your search to journals, periodicals, etc., do a Title search and select "Journals/Serials" instead of "All Collections" (the default). Look carefully at the holdings information to make sure we have the volume and issue of the periodical you need. (Make sure to select "All Collections" if you want to switch back to searching the entire catalog.)


If the article you are looking for is in a print journal, you can order it for electronic delivery by clicking on "Request a PDF (UCB only)" in the record for the print journal (sample record).


In the Periodicals Collection the Norlin Research Area (2nd floor), you can find runs of print periodicals that span the years 1940-1960, for instance the Nation (also online) and the Saturday Evening Post (also online). Browse in the the same general area as these for similar titles that might be of interest to you.


If you need to use periodicals on microform, 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.


The Libraries makes a large selection of databases available for your research.
These databases index materials within certain parameters, whether CU owns them or not. If no full text is supplied of a useful item, that means you will need to look for it in our collections and, if necessary, obtain it elsewhere.


You can see the difference between the Chinook library catalog and library databases here. (graphic)


+ Choosing Databases

Databases come in a variety of shapes and sizes ranging from those with the full text of primary and secondary sources to those with bibliographic citations to primary and secondary sources.


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.



+ Standard Secondary-Source Databases


America: History & Life (for the U.S. and Canada) and Historical Abstracts (for the rest of the world from 1450) are the main secondary-source databases.


Here are a couple that will be useful for this class. Consult Find Articles & Databases for more options.

America: History and Life With Full Text

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


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


+ Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a Web search engine that specifically searches scholarly literature and academic resources. It is a place to look for secondary sources, but not primary sources.


There is overlap between the content in Google Scholar and our library databases. It may include some things our databases do not, but it will not come close to containing everything in our library databases, to which we subscribe for this reason and also because they have added search functionality.


Bottom line: Google Scholar can be a convenient starting place, but it is not a comprehensive "one-stop shop" for secondary sources. For more precise searching, more search features, and more content, use the the Libraries' databases (Find Articles & Databases).


You can access our subscribed resources that you find in Google Scholar. When you are off campus, go through this link. It will provide you easier full-text access because it will ask you to authenticate and with automatically include Find it at CU links when you are searching Google Scholar..


+ Primary-Source Databases


Here are a few primary-source databases that might be useful for this class.Consult Find Articles & Databases for more options.

American Consumer Culture 1935-1965

Provides a unique insight into the American consumer boom of the mid-20th century through market research reports commissioned by companies on consumer goods ranging from tobacco and broadcasting to cars and hotels. Trial ends: Nov. 3, 2014. CU


ProQuest Historical Newspapers

Provides online access to older issues of newspapers, including New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Defender, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Coverage for most newspapers begins from the middle 1800s. CU


Readers Guide

Database containing comprehensive indexing and abstracting of the most popular general-interest periodicals published in the United States and Canada, plus the full text of selected periodicals. Readers' Retrospective gives a detailed account of U.S. culture and history. CU


+ No Full Text - Where to Look Next




Once you have located periodical material of interest in these databases, if they do not contain a direct link to full text, make sure you have all the relevant citation information. You can print and/or email the citations and abstracts from most of the databases. Your next steps for getting an article are offered via the "Find it at CU" link if it appears in the database:


  • Search for an electronic copy of the journal by searching Chinook by ISSN under "Library Catalog"
  • Search for a print copy of the journal by searching Chinook by Title under "Library Catalog." If we own the print, you can order an electronic copy by clicking on the "Request a PDF (UCB only)" button in the record for the print journal (sample record).
  • If no print version is available, order an electronic copy under "Articles" through ILLiad (document delivery/ILL).

Books, Book Chapters, DVDs...


Do a Title search for the book in Chinook to see if the CU Libraries hold it.


  • You can order an electronic copy of a book chapter we own through ILLiad

If we do not have the material in question, order through Interlibrary Loan by visiting this page.



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. (graphic)


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 might choose 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 materials in other libraries, with suggested times you should allow to receive them:


+ Books and Microforms


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.


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 the material.


+ Articles


Go directly into ILLiad to make your request. You should allow a week 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:


+ From the Libraries


  • How Do I...? helpful web guides on a variety of research-related topics

  • Ask Us! email, chat, text, and phone reference services are available extended hours

  • Walk-up reference services at the Research Desk on the 2nd floor of Norlin Library as well as at some branch libraries (see "Hours Staffed")


+ From Me