UCB Libraries

Student Studying

Resources for History 4546
Popular Culture in Modern America

Contents

Starting Your Research


Tips for Developing a Search Strategy


Finding Sources in the CU Boulder Libraries

Finding Sources in Library Databases

Organizing Your Bibliographic Citations

 

Further Assistance

Starting Your Research

 

Reference resources can be a great place to start when you are seeing to develop a less-than-familiar topic. They can provide you with an overview and background information, summarize established knowledge and important facts, key figures, and offer a list of recommended sources or readings.

ABC-Clio eBook Collection

This resource ncludes the full text of hundreds of reference titles on a great variety of historical and current subjects. CU

Tips for Developing a Search Strategy

Before starting your search, break your topic down into discrete concepts that represent the 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 databases. These 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, broader terms, and narrower terms.

 

+ Tips for Developing Search Terms for Historical Topics

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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. The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is a great resource for finding these terms.

Avoid using redundant or overlapping search terms, e.g. using "1960s" and "summer of love" or using "United States" in America: History and Life

Adding terms that represent geographical distinctions, time periods, or significant figures associated with your topic may be useful

 

+ Combining Search Terms

 

Operators

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  • AND: "popular culture" AND "united states" AND movies (must find all terms)
  • OR: movies OR "motion pictures" (must find one of the terms)
  • NOT: movies NOT drama (must find first term NOT second term)

Punctuation

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  • Phrases: “popular culture” (must find that phrase in that order)
  • Synonyms: (Television OR TV) AND "popular culture"
  • Truncation and wildcards:
    cultur* will find culture and cultural
    wom?n will find woman and women

 

The Search Strategy Process Worksheet can be quite helpful in helping you develop search terms for your own topic.

 

Once you've selected your search terms, think critically about what kind of information resources you need and select appropriate indexes and databases in which to search for material.

This step is crucial to efficient identification of quality primary and secondary sources for your research. 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.


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Finding Sources in the CU Boulder Libraries

 

You can locate primary and secondary sources for your research in the Libraries by searching the Chinook library catalog. Chinook Classic contains books, journals, microforms and other materials but NOT articles. Also, 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).

 

As you search Chinook, you will notice that materials may have different locations in the Libraries' system, including Norlin Stacks, PASCAL offsite, Government Publications, Special Collections, and Archives. If you are wondering where these locations are, you can consult campus library maps and floor plans. Also, if you click on the location link in the Chinook record in question, you will see the location on a map and/or receive more information about it.

 

+ Chinook Classic Search

 

You can locate most relevant items in the Libraries by searching the Chinook library catalog. There are many primary sources available in the Libraries, including documents (books, letters, etc.) from the period under study, as well as electronic, microform, and printed collections of these documents published at a later date.

 

Do an Advanced Keyword search on your topic. (NB: doing a "Keyword" search will dump you into the Encore rather than Chinook Classic interface.) Notice that you can specify language, location, material type, and year, among other limits. You will get a mixed bag of results including both primary and secondary sources.

 

Try this example:

Concept 1:

 

"popular culture"

Concept 2:

 

"United States"

Concept 3:

 

"motion pictures"

 

Result:

 

primary & secondary sources

 

There are several ways to try to limit your search to primary sources:

 

  • Add one of the special subject terms that identify primary sources to your search: sources (more general), correspondence, diaries, narratives, pamphlets, speeches, letters, documents, etc.
Concept 1:

 

"popular culture"

Concept 2:

 

"United States"

Concept 3:

 

"motion pictures"

Concept 4:

 

sources

Result:

 

mostly primary sources

 

  • Do an Advanced Keyword search again and try limiting the dates of publication by year, entering the dates bounding your time period. For this search, leave off any special subject terms identifying primary sources from the previous search.
Concept 1:

 

"popular culture"

Concept 2:

 

"United States"

Concept 3:

 

"motion pictures"

Concept 4:

 

1950-1980

Result:

 

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.

Please note: 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 owned by the Libraries.

 

+ Other Chinook Tips

 

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

  • Once you have found a useful item on your topic, take note of the Subjects listed in the item's full Chinook record. Click on these links to find related materials.

  • PASCAL is the Libraries' offsite storage facility. You can learn how to request materials from PASCAL by clicking on the "PASCAL offsite" location in the Chinook record.

  • 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 will appear on the left. You can order a copy of what you want online if is available in another Prospector library. Circulation will contact you when it is available for pick-up.

  • For journals, be sure to look at the holdings information to make sure we own/offer access to the volume and issue you need. If the article you need is in a print journal, you can order it for electronic delivery by clicking on the "Request a PDF (UCB only)" button in the record for the print journal (sample record).

  • 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.

  • Use the "Online Library Resources" search to limit your search to electronic reference works, e-books, etc. Make sure to select "All Collections" if you want to switch back to searching the entire catalog.

  • Click the "Find More Resources" button to search for an item in Amazon, look up an encyclopedia article in Encyclopedia Britannica Online, search for full-text, search Google Book Search and Google Scholar, or export a citation into RefWorks bibliographic management software (for more information, see (for more information, see Organizing Your Bibliographic Citations below).

 

Finding Sources in Library Databases

 

Below is a selection of the databases that the Libraries makes available for your research. If you are not finding relevant sources in these databases or need more material, be sure to look for additional databases on Find Articles & Databases: History and in other subject pages such as Biography, Ethnic Studies, Women and Gender Studies, and News & Newspapers.

 

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. Some offer full-text primary sources that are keyword-searchable and others do not (in which case you need to search records within the database to access the full text). Some indexes have links directly to full text, others use a link resolver ("Find it at CU") to help you find electronic and print full text, and others require you to look in Chinook as a separate step to find the full text.

 

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 an electronic or print index. Choose your databases based on the utility of the content/content indexed for your research, not the form in which the content is delivered.

Primary Sources

 

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

 

ProQuest Newspapers

Index with full-text of articles in Wall Street Journal and 500+ other major U.S. and international newspapers, news wires and other news sources. CU

 

Lexis Nexis Academic

Interdisciplinary database that contains the full text of national, international, and regional news, newswires, transcripts, magazine articles, legal and business information, public opinion polls, and other sources. CU

 

Secondary Sources

 

America: History and Life
Citations and abstracts to social science and humanities literature on all aspects of US and Canadian history, culture, and current affairs from prehistoric times to the present. Coverage: 1964-present. CU

 

Academic Search Premier
Provides full text journal coverage for nearly all academic areas of study - including social sciences, humanities, education, computer sciences, engineering, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, and ethnic studies. CU

 

Humanities Full Text
Abstracts and some full text covering diverse subject areas of the humanities. May be searched concurrently with Social Sciences Full Text and Humanities & Social Sciences Retro (1907-1984). CU

 

Social Sciences Full Text
Indexes, abstracts and full-text from periodicals covers areas that include addiction studies, anthropology, criminology, economics, family studies, gerontology, minority studies, policy sciences, political science, psychology, social work, and urban studies. May be searched concurrently with Humanities Full Text and Humanities & Social Sciences Retro (1907-1984). CU

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+ No Full Text? - Where to Look Next


Articles

 

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." You can order an electronic copy as described above.
  • If no print version is available, order an electronic copy under "Articles" through ILLiad (document delivery/ILL). Please supply an accurate "not wanted after date."

Books and Book Chapters

 

Do a Title search for the book in Chinook to see if the CU Libraries hold it. If not, your next steps for getting a book are:

  • Re-run your search in Prospector
  • Search for the title in WorldCat and order it through ILLiad. Please supply an accurate "not wanted after date."

 

Organizing Your Bibliographic Citations

 

Once you have found relevant material, you may wish to manage your bibliographic information using specialized software. The Libraries have subscribed to RefWorks, which is available to all CU students.

 

For detailed information on adding citations to the database, creating a bibliography, and more in How Do I...Use RefWorks?

 

Further Assistance

 

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

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  • 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

  • Stop by my office hours Thursdays 1-2pm in Hellems 224. Please note any exceptions to these hours listed.

  • Drop by when I am staffing the Research Desk on the 2nd floor of Norlin Library. During the spring 2011 term I am there most (but not all) Tuesdays 3-4pm and Thursdays 4-5pm.

  • Request a research consultation at least a week in advance

 

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