HIST 4546: Popular Culture in Modern America
- 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.
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
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.
- 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 "United States" in the America: History & Life database. This is a common reason for getting too few results.
- 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)
- 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
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.
The following tips will help you make the most of your Chinook Classic 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. 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:
- 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.
Requesting electronic copies:
- 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.
- 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.
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)
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.
- 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.
Here are a couple that will be useful for this class. Consult Find Articles & Databases for more options.
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
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
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..
Here are a few primary-source databases that might be useful for this class.Consult Find Articles & Databases for more options.
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
Content: Primary sources, motion pictures, sound recordings, prints, maps, manuscripts, sheet music, photographs
Description: Digital record of American history and creativity.
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
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
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:
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.
If you are in a database, click on "Find it at CU" and follow the "document delivery/ILL" link into ILLiad. Otherwise, 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: