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Resources for History 3115: Seminar in Early American History


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 a KEYWORD search on your topic. Notice that you can specify language, location (e.g. Reference), material type, and year. 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.
    • Again do a Keyword search 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.
  • 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 SUBJECT HEADINGS 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. You may wish to check the E-Journal Finder as well, since not all e-journal information is available in Chinook.
  • Use the Internet Sources Only search to find electronic reference works, e-books, etc.

Library Locations

The following departments all contain substantial material for historical research. Not all of the material in them 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.


There may be pertinent material in Government Publications, especially items of a military and political nature. Talk to Tim Byrne or 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 or need more material, be sure to check out other databases on the Find Articles & Databases: History and other subject pages, such as Biography and Ethnic Studies.

Primary Source Full-Text

Early American Imprints, Series I. Evans (1639-1800)
Page images and searchable full-text of Early American Imprints, Series I. Evans. Covers every aspect of in 17th- and 18th-century American life including history, literature, religion and foreign affairs. Upon completion the database will consist of 36,000 titles. CU


Early American Newspapers

Features cover-to-cover reproductions of over 200 historic newspapers published in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia. The coverage provides insight into the early years of the United States - the story of its people, ideals, commerce, and everyday life. CU Trial ends March 17, 2006


Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)
Eighteenth Century Collections Online is an ongoing project based on The English Short Title Catalog, a machine-readable union list of the holdings of the British Library, as well as those from more than 1,500 university, private and public libraries worldwide. This includes over 150,000 English-language titles and editions published between 1701-1800. CU

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

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

To find articles in other periodical sources, particularly local ones, 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

ACLS History E-Book (HEB) Project
A cross-searchable, online collection of over 900 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


Humanities Abstracts/Full Text
Citations, abstracts, and full text covering diverse subject areas of the humanities. Coverage: 1984-present. Abstracts since 1994. 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


Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

50,000 biographies of people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond, from the earliest times to the year 2002. 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. 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. Coverage: 1955-present. CU

Bibliography of British and Irish History Online
The Royal Historical Society bibliography, which is hosted by the Institute of Historical Research, is a guide to writing on British and Irish history from the Roman period to the present day.


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 "Search for Full Text" link if it appears in the database
    • Try searching the journal title in the E-Journal Finder
    • Do a Periodical Title search in Chinook
    • Order it from 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 interlibrary loan it

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 16 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.



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 independently to be sure CU 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 as well as 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. One product available to CU patrons is:

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

A tutorial, quick start guide, fact sheet, and other helpful information is available on the RefWorks web site.

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.

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