UCB Libraries

Student Studying

Resources for History 3110
Senior Honors Colloquium

Tips for Conducting Effective Library Research

1. Before you start your search, break your topic down into several discrete concepts/search terms. Databases, including the library catalog, will be able to retrieve more relevant materials this way. For more flexible searching, think of various ways to express these search terms -- synonyms, broader terms, and narrower terms. This is particularly important for searching in full-text primary source databases. The Search Strategy Process Worksheet can be quite helpful in this process.

2. Then, think 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 sources -- both primary and secondary -- for your research.

Finding Primary Sources in the CU Boulder Libraries

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.


You can locate most relevant items in the Libraries by searching in the Chinook library catalog. There are several ways to search Chinook effectively for primary sources:

  • Do an Advanced Keyword search on your topic. Notice that you can specify language, location (e.g. Reference), material type, and year, among other limits. You will get a mixed bag of results including both primary and secondary sources.
    • Then add one of the special subject terms that identify primary materials to your search: sources (more general), correspondence, diaries, narratives, pamphlets, speeches, letters, documents, 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 materials.
    • Let's try some of these examples:

      women work*

      "World War"

        result: primary & secondary sources
      women work* "World War"


      result: 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.
  • 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.

Other Chinook Tips

  • Take note of the availability and location of an item; by clicking on a location's link in the record, you will see it on a map and/or receive more information about it.
  • In the case of journals, also look at the holdings information, to make sure we own the volume and issue you need. If it is in PASCAL, you can order the article you are interested in for electronic delivery using ILLiad. This link can also be found by clicking on the PASCAL location code in Chinook.
  • Use the Internet Sources Only search to find electronic reference works, e-books, etc. or the Journals/Serials search to look for journals, newspapers, etc. Make sure to select All Collections if you want to switch back to searching the entire catalog.
  • If an item is checked out or we do not have it, search Prospector and order it online if a copy of what you want is available in another Prospector library.
  • 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 .
  • There is a rich cache of primary-source material on microforms. You can access the guides and the microforms at Circulation. Some examples include:

Library Locations

The following departments all contain substantial material for historical research. Not all of the materials have records in Chinook, so the best policy is to visit them as well.

Special Collections also offers primary source material, including manuscripts and printed works, on a wide variety of topics. Special Collections librarians Debbie Hollis and Michelle Visser can help you navigate the collections.


Much pertinent material is available in Government Publications, especially items of a military and political nature. Ask librarian Jennie Gerke for help locating records of interest to you.

Finding Primary and Secondary Sources in Library Databases

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

Primary Source Full-Text

Proquest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times
The New York Times offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue in 1851. CU


Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800
Page images and searchable full-text of Early American Imprints, Series I. Evans. These 36,000 titles cover every aspect of in 17th- and 18th-century American life including history, literature, religion and foreign affairs. CU


Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819
Covering every aspect of American life during the early decades of the United States, this primary-source collection provides full-text access to the 36,000 American books, pamphlets and broadsides published in the first nineteen years of the nineteenth century. CU


America's Historical Newspapers, Early American Newspapers, Series I and II

The Series I database offers fully searchable, cover-to-cover reproductions of nearly 350,000 issues from over 700 historical American newspapers focusing largely on the 18th century. Series II complements Series I by offering fully searchable digital facsimiles of several hundred thousand issues from more than 200 significant 18th- and 19th-century newspapers. These digital editions are based on Clarence S. Brigham's "History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820" and other authoritative bibliographies and primarily on the holdings of the American Antiquarian Society, which houses a comprehensive collection of American newspapers through 1876. CU


19th Century U.S. Newspapers

This resource provides full-text content and images from numerous newspapers from a range of urban and rural regions throughout the U.S. The collection encompasses the entire 19th century, with an emphasis on such topics as the American Civil War, African-American culture and history, Western migration and Antebellum-era life. CU

U.S. Congressional Serial Set
The bound, sequentially numbered volumes of all the Reports, Documents, and Journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives constitute a rich source of primary-source material on all aspects of American history. Upon completion, the digital version of the Serial Set will consist of approximately 13,800 volumes and over 12 million pages. CU

American Memory
The premier collection of digitized American primary-source material, from texts to photographs, created by the Library of Congress.


The Times Digital Archive 1785-1985
Searchable access to the complete backfile of The Times (London), available in full page images. (For full text of the The Times since 1985, use LexisNexis Academic or ProQuest Newsstand.) 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 Pollard & Redgrave, Wing, and the Thomason Tracts. CU


Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)
Digital images and keyword searchable texts of 150,000 works in English and foreign languages published in Britain, along with thousands of works published in the Americas, between 1701 and 1800 in the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science and more. CU


Eighteenth Century Journals II

This collection is a critical resource for the study of all aspects of the eighteenth century, including the American and French revolutions, British and European literature, theatre and popular entertainment, politics and religion, popular morality and social life, and exoticism and imperialism. It offers a wide variety of fully searchable newspapers and periodicals not available elsewhere and has no overlap with ECCO, EEBO, or Early English Newspapers. CU


British Periodicals Collection I

When complete, this database will consist of more than 160 British periodicals that detail life between 1681 and 1921. These titles touch on diverse topics like philosophy, fine arts, history, slavery, literature, psychology, science, Celtic folklore, and religion. The content is available in full page image with searchable full text. CU

Empire Online
A searchable database containing full text images of original manuscripts and printed material, 1492-1969, taken from libraries and archives around the world. It covers Africa, the Americas, Australasia, Oceania and South Asia. CU

Primary Source Indexes

Index to Early American Periodicals, 1741-1935
This database covers all known periodicals that began and ended publication between 1741 and 1935; the full text of the periodicals is in the American Periodical Series I, II, and III, and English Literary Periodicals microfilm series. CU


Periodicals Index Online
Index to the contents of thousands of periodicals in the humanities and social sciences since 1770. CU

Readers' Guide Abstracts/Full Text
Readers' Guide Retrospective 1880-1992

Abstracts and some full text of articles from popular magazines. You can search them both at once by checking off both databases. CU

To find articles in other periodical sources, search Chinook by the paper name and look for its index. Please note that while we may have indexes for certain papers, it does not guarantee we have the paper itself. For Colorado papers especially, it is worth a call, e-mail, or a trip to the CU Archives or one of the other historical institutions in the area (Denver Public Library, Colorado Historical Society, Colorado State Archives, etc.).

Secondary Source Full-Text

ATLA Religion with ATLASerials

Collection of major religious and theology journals selected by religion scholars in the United States. Full text journals representing all major religious faiths, denominations and language groups are included. CU


ACLS Humanities E-Book
A cross-searchable, online collection of over 1,200 books in the field of history. Currently the majority are previously published "backlist" titles, carefully selected works of major importance that are regularly consulted by students and scholars. The project also includes "frontlist" titles, entirely new titles in electronic format. Over the next few years, the Project plans to add approximately 250 titles annually to the collection, including new frontlist titles. CU


History Reference Online
HRO includes the online full text of hundreds of reference books on many subjects, including US and world history, politics, government, society, education, religion, folklore, mythology, science, environment and geography. Browse by subject or title, or search the full text. CU


Humanities Full Text
Abstracts covering diverse subject areas of the humanities. Coverage: 1984-present. Abstracts since 1994. CU


Digitized collection of full-text journal articles covering a diverse range of subjects. CU

Project Muse

Full-text access to over 100 scholarly journals in the arts and humanities, social sciences and mathematics published by Johns Hopkins University Press and other university presses. Coverage: 1995-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

Secondary Source Indexes

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. For other areas of the world, see Historical Abstracts. One or both databases may be searched from the same interface. Coverage: 1964-present. CU

Historical Abstracts
Indexing with abstracts for literature relating to world history -- excluding the US and Canada -- from 1450 to the present. Covers political, diplomatic, economic, social, cultural, and intellectual history. Literature on the US and Canada are covered in America: History and Life. One or both databases may be searched from the same interface. Coverage: 1955-present. CU

Année Philologique

An online index to research on all aspects of greco-roman antiquity, from prehistory to 800 AD. Indexes books, journal articles, dissertations, and conference proceedings covering a broad range of classical subjects, including language, literature, archaeology, history, law, philosophy, science, and technology. CU

International Medieval Bibliography Online
Bibliography of the European Middle Ages (c. 400-1500). CU

Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Bibliography of interdisciplinary literature pertaining to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400-1700). CU

Royal Historical Society Bibliography

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.


HAPI: Hispanic American Periodicals Index
Authoritative, worldwide information about Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean basin, the United States-Mexico border region, and Hispanics in the United States. Contains complete bibliographic citations to articles, book reviews, documents, original literary works, and other materials appearing in more than 400 key social science and humanities journals published throughout the world. Coverage: 1970 - present. CU


HLAS Online: Handbook of Latin American Studies

Bibliography on Latin America consisting of works selected and annotated by scholars. Edited by the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress, the multidisciplinary Handbook alternates annually between the social sciences and the humanities. Each year, more than 130 academics from around the world choose over 5,000 works for inclusion in the Handbook.


Middle Eastern & Central Asian Studies
MECAS is a systematic, and non-evaluative bibliographic index of research, policy, and scholarly discourse on the countries and peoples of the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. Over 12,000 records of recently published & "gray" literature are added annually. CU


Index Islamicus

The Index Islamicus database indexes literature on Islam, the Middle East and the Muslim world. Records included in the database cover almost 100 years of publications on the world of Islam. Material cited in the Index Islamicus includes not only work written about the Middle East, but also about the other main Muslim areas of Asia and Africa, plus Muslim minorities elsewhere. Over 3,000 journals are monitored for inclusion in the database, together with conference proceedings, monographs, multi-authored works and book reviews. Journals and books include a wide variety of subjects. CU


PAIS International

Database covering global public policy and social issues including health, finance, education, technology, and the environment for the U.S. and abroad. Covers periodicals, books, hearings, reports, gray literature, government publications, Internet resources, and other publications from 120 countries. Contains more than 480,000 records, each with bibliographic information and brief, descriptive abstracts. Includes materials in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish with English language abstracts. CU


Women's Studies International
Database includes the latest scholarship in feminist research, including Women Studies Abstracts. Curriculum in the areas of sociology, history, political science & economy, public policy, international relations, arts & humanities, business and education. Nearly 800 essential sources include: journals, newspapers, newsletters, bulletins, books, book chapters, proceedings, reports, theses, dissertations, NGO studies, important web sites& web documents, and gray literature. Over 2,000 periodical sources are represented and include ISSNs.


Periodicals Index Online
Index to the contents of thousands of periodicals in the humanities and social sciences since 1770. CU


IBZ: Internationale Bibliographie der Zeitschriftenliteratur/International Bibliography of Periodical Literature
An international, multilingual, and interdisciplinary bibliography indexing over 10,700 periodicals primarily in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Coverage: 1983-present. CU

Web of Science
An interdisciplinary online index that provides bibliographic citations for high impact journals in the disciplines of science, social sciences, and arts and humanities. Provides subject, citation, and title access. Includes access to current and retrospective bibliographic information from nearly 9,300 leading scholarly peer-reviewed journals. The database can be used to track resources cited in an article and to identify articles which cite an article or book. The "Find Related Records" feature enables users to find other articles that have cited the same sources. All three areas (sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities) can be searched individually or in combination. CU

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


Also see Finding History Dissertations on the History Subject Guide and How Do I...Find Dissertations or Theses?

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 to yourself from most of the databases. Your next steps for getting an article are:

  • Try the "Find it at CU" link if it appears in the database
    • See if full text is available
    • Search Chinook
  • Order it through Interlibrary Loan (ILLiad)

For 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 Interlibrary Loan

For non-CU dissertations and theses, search for the title in WorldCat and order it through Interlibrary Loan

Finding and Obtaining Materials from Other Libraries

If an item is not held by the CU Libraries, there are various ways you can obtain it through Interlibrary Loan.

Books and Microforms


If you have searched Chinook and a book or microform is not located in the Libraries, click on the 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 a few days to receive the material.


Center for Research Libraries

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. 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 directly from within WorldCat. Please note, however, that the decision to loan is up to the holding library or archive, and many will not loan unique and fragile materials. You should allow three weeks to receive the material.



You can initiate requests for articles and other materials by submitting them through ILLiad. 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.

Bibliographic Management Software

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

RefWorks is a web-based bibliography and database manager that allows you to create your own personal database by importing references from online databases. You can use these references in writing papers and format the paper and bibliography automatically. New users should create a personal login by clicking on "Sign Up for an Individual Account," entering the appropriate information, and clicking on "Register." CU

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

Further Assistance

Still need more help? Or can't figure out how to use a particular resource? I'm always happy to set up appointments to have a more in-depth discussion of your research.

Jennie Gerke

CU = Resources marked with this symbol are available in campus libraries and to students, staff, and faculty via the campus network. Use of these resources is subject to copyright laws and license limitations. Remote access information.