Resources for History 7153
Research Seminar in Medieval and Early Modern English History
Reference resources can be a great place to start when you are seeing to develop a less-than-familiar topic or quickly need to access information on word usage and style. 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.
This selection of reference resources is intended to give you an idea how useful they can be. Many more, ranging from the general to the specific, are available to you electronically and in print and may be found by searching Chinook.
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which focuses on people associated with Great Britain and its empire, includes a list of primary and secondary sources selected by the contributing authors. CU
The Dictionary of Irish Biography includes the lives of Irish men and women who made a significant contribution in Ireland and abroad, as well as those born overseas who had noteworthy careers in Ireland. CU
The ABC-Clio eBook Collection, formerly History Reference Online, 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
Oxford Digital Reference Shelf provides access to selected titles in the Oxford reference collection. CU
The Oxford English Dictionary Online, an historical dictionary that covers words from across the English-speaking world, traces the usage of the words through 2.5 million quotations form a range of international English language sources. CU
The Chicago Manual of Style prescribes writing and citation styles widely used in the field of history. It deals with aspects of editorial practice, from American English grammar and usage to document preparation. 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 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.
- 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 can be a huge help in this process.
- Avoid using redundant or overlapping search terms, e.g. using "16th century" and "Elizabethan period" or using "Britain" in the RHS Bibliography
- Adding terms that represent geographical distinctions, time periods, or significant figures associated with your topic may be useful
+ Operators and Punctuation for Combining Search Terms
- AND: Catholic* AND England AND "17th century" (must find all terms)
- OR: Catholic OR recusant (must find one of the terms)
- NOT: England NOT London (must find first term NOT second term)
- Phrases: "Gunpowder Plot" (must find that phrase in that order)
- Synonyms: (Catholic OR recusant) AND "17th century"
- Truncation and wildcards:
diploma* will find diplomacy, diplomatics, diplomat, dipomats, and also diploma
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 and track which ones you have used.
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. The History section in Find Articles & Databases lists a selection of databases by type of sources and geographic area.
The Finding Guides to the British Studies Collections in the University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries are the best source for finding primary-source material in the Libraries related to British Studies received before 2005. They contain entries for primary materials, collections of sources, and some reference or research aids but do not list secondary works, standard printed sources such as literary texts, or current scholarly and popular periodicals.
You can locate primary and secondary sources for your research in the Libraries by searching the Chinook library catalog. Chinook 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).
- For primary sources acquired by the Libraries before 2005, consult the Finding Guides to the British Studies Collections first.
- And then use Chinook to find primary sources acquired more recently as well as secondary sources.
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.
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. 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:
primary & secondary sources
There are several ways to limit your Chinook 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, newsletters, etc.
- 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.)
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- With journals, be sure to look at the holdings information to make sure we own/offer access to the volume and issue you need. If an article you need is in a print journal in PASCAL offsite, you can order the article you are interested in for electronic delivery using the ILLiad interlibrary loan system. You can also access this link by clicking on the location in the Chinook 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.
- 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 Organizing Your Bibliographic Citations below).
The Libraries owns an exceedingly 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 what reels items of interest are located, you can order/locate them 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:
- Crown Servants: Series One, The Papers of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, 1593-1641
- Foxe and The English Reformation, 1539-1587
- Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Newsletters
- Medieval and Early Modern Women
Please note: We continue to receive reels of Early English Books, 1475-1640 (Pollard & Redgrave or STC I) and Early English Books, 1641-1700 (Wing or STC II) microfilm that are not yet in EEBO. You can determine the reel and piece number you need by searching the ESTC. To see which units have not yet been digitized, see What's Online Now?
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 in the History section of Find Articles & Databases and in other relevant sections..
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.
SPO is a groundbreaking resource for the study of Early Modern Britain and Europe. By reuniting State Papers Domestic and Foreign with the Registers of the Privy Council and State Papers in the British Library, the collection creates a new backbone for research and teaching in politics, government, social economic and religious history. SPO reproduces the original historical manuscripts in facsimile linking each manuscript to its corresponding fully-searchable Calendar entry. CU
Early English Books Online (EEBO)
Subset of items in the ESTC including the complete page images of over 100,000 items in all subject areas published in Great Britain or in the English language between 1473 and 1700, a majority of the works listed in the Pollard & Redgrave (STC I), Wing (STC II), and Thomason Tracts bibliographies. STC I and STC II continue to add microfilm units, not all of which are in EEBO. For which ones are, see What's Online Now? CU
The ESTC is updated daily and is the most comprehensive bibliography of early modern English titles available. It provides extensive descriptions and holdings information for letterpress materials printed in Great Britain or any of its dependencies in any language—as well as for materials printed in English anywhere else in the world. Coverage is from the beginnings of print to 1800 including all recorded English monographs printed between 1473 and 1700.
Searchable digital collection covering advice literature to women, 1450 to 1910. It brings together approximately 50,000 images of original manuscript and printed material, including a strong core of documents from the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Ephemeral material such as ballads, cartoons and pamphlets are featured alongside diaries, advice literature, medical journals, conduct books and periodicals. CU
Secondary-source databases can also double as primary-source databases if they cover the timeframe you are researching.
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 1,800 journals in over 40 languages back to 1955. With over 800,000 records and access to the full text of more than 316 journals and more than 138 books, Historical Abstracts is unmatched in its scope and breadth of historical and related social science literature.Trial until 30 June 2010. CU
Bibliography of publications relating to the history of the British Isles, and of the British empire and commonwealth, during all periods for which written documentation is available from 55 BC to the present. CU
Periodicals Index Online
Index to the contents of thousands of periodicals in the humanities and social sciences since 1770. CU
Periodicals Archive Online (PAO) is an archive of hundreds of digitized journals published in the arts, humanities and social sciences. It provides researchers with access to more than 200 years of scholarship, spread across a wide variety of subject areas. CU
Humanities Full Text
Abstracts covering diverse subject areas of the humanities. Coverage: 1984-present. Abstracts since 1994. CU
+ Theses and Dissertations
ProQuest Dissertations and Theses
The world's most comprehensive collection of dissertations and theses, with more than 2.3 million doctoral dissertations and master's theses included, covering graduate research from 1861 to present from universities in North America and from around the globe. The database includes bibliographic citations for materials ranging from the first U.S. dissertation, accepted in 1861, to those accepted as recently as last semester. Titles published since 1997 are available in PDF digital format and have 24-page previews available. The full text of more than 1.9 million of these titles is available for a fee. Coverage: 1861 to present. Dissertation abstracts since 1980. Thesis abstracts since 1988. CU
Index to Theses
Index to Theses provides a comprehensive listing of theses with abstracts accepted for higher degrees by universities in Great Britain and Ireland since 1716. Provides total bibliographic control of all theses ever produced by British and Irish Universities. Full abstracts included from 1970. 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:
- See if it supplies a link to electronic full text under the "Full Text" heading
- If this doesn't appear, under the "Library Catalog" heading click "Chinook Library Catalog by ISSN" to search for the print version; if the print is offsite, you can order an electronic copy in ILLiad
- If no print version is available, click under the "Interlibrary Loan" heading to order an electronic copy via ArticleReach; this is also appropriate if we have the journal in print but it's currently inaccessible
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
Non-CU Dissertations and Theses
- Search for the title in WorldCat and order it through ILLiad
For more information about the various Interlibrary Loan options mentioned here, select the "Interlibrary Loan" tab on this guide.
Access to Archives
Contains catalogues describing archives held throughout England and dating from the 900s to the present day.
The British Library
The BL's homepage has direct links to its public catalog, in addition to a plethora of information on its collections.
The National Archives
National archives of England, Wales and the United Kingdom housing the records of central government and courts of law from the 11th century on.
If an item is not held by the Libraries, there are various ways you can obtain it through Interlibrary Loan. Please note, however, the decision to loan items is up to the holding library or archive, and many will not loan unique and fragile materials. How much time it takes to fill the request can range from 24 hours to never, depending on the item. Articles are generally faster than books because the loaning library might choose to supply them electronically. Below are suggested times you should allow to receive the material via the different delivery methods. If you order it and do not use it, the Libraries will of course have to pay for the loan anyway.
You can initiate requests for all types of materials by submitting a request through the ILLiad interlibrary loan system. Log in using your Identikey, and submit the required information for the items you would like to order. You should allow three weeks to receive the material.
For specific types of material you also have the following options:
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 three weeks to receive the material. CU
If you follow the "Interlibrary Loan" link in "Find it at CU," you will have the option to order the article in question via the ARL Article Reach service. 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:
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?