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Resources for History 3415
Seminar in Recent American History:
Social Impact of the American Civil War


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.
    • Do a 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* Civil War   result: primary & secondary sources
      women work* Civil 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 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 at the moment.
  • 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 materials have records in Chinook, so the best policy is to visit these departments as well as searching for material in their collections in Chinook.

There is a rich cache of primary source material on microforms in the Media Library. Ask Maureen Van Camp, Head of Media, for help locating pertinent collections and their guides. Some examples include:

    • American Women's Diaries
    • Southern Women and their Families in the Nineteenth Century
    • New England Women and Their Families in the 18th and 19th Centuries
    • Slavery and Anti-Slavery Pamphlets
    • Race, Slavery, and Free Blacks
    • Black Abolitionist Papers
    • Abolition & Emancipation
    • Afro-American History Series

Special Collections will also have items of interest on many topics, including the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln. Special Collections librarians Debbie Hollis and Michelle Visser can help you navigate the collections.

There may be pertinent material on your subject in the Government Publications, especially items of a military and political nature. One item of interest may be Confederate Imprints, 1861-1865, a microform collection of sources on the southern states. Talk to Tim Byrne, Head of Government Publications, for help locating records of interest to you.


The CU Archives also has much source material, mainly relating but not limited to Colorado and the West, on topics ranging from women to war to Native Americans. Also consult with Archivist Dave Hays to discover whether Archives holds sources relevant to your topic.

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, and News & Newspapers.

Primary Source Full-Text

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

Proquest Historical Newspapers: 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


America's Historical Newspapers, 1690-1900: Early American Newspapers, Series I, 1690-1876 and Series II, 1758-1900
Series I 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. America's Historical Newspapers can be cross-searched with other Archive of Americana databases (Early American Imprints, American State Papers, and U.S. Congressional Serial Set) by clicking on "Archive of Americana" once you have entered the database. CU


U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1980
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. Now Available: 15th Congress - 56th Congress, 1st Session, 1817-1900; Serial Set vols. 1-3896 (through S.Rpt. 1675). This database can be searched in tandem with other Archive of Americana databases (Early American Newspapers, American State Papers, and America's Historical Newspapers) by clicking on "Archive of Americana" once you have entered the database. CU

Making of America (Cornell)
Making of America (Michigan)

A large and diverse full-text collection of books and journals, mainly from the years 1850 to 1870, made available by the University of Michigan and Cornell University and Cornell University. Michigan's site is heavier on books, while Cornell's is heavier on journals.

HarpWeek: The Civil War Era (1857-1865)
Pages from Harper's Weekly, scanned as images. Includes indexes. CU

African-American Newspapers: The 19th Century
Contains information about the cultural life and history during the 1800s, and includes first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day, including the Mexican War, Presidential and congressional addresses, Congressional abstracts, business and commodity markets, the humanities, world travel and religion. The newspapers also contain large numbers of early biographies, vital statistics, essays and editorials, poetry and prose, and advertisements all of which embody the African-American experience. CU


Black Thought and Culture: African Americans from Colonial Times to the Present

Contains 989 sources with 947 authors, covering the non-fiction published works of leading African Americans. Particular care has been taken to index this material so that it can be searched more thoroughly than ever before. Where possible the complete published non-fiction works are included, as well as interviews, journal articles, speeches, essays, pamplets, letters and other fugitive material. Black Thought and Culture uses PhiloLogic software, developed at the University of Chicago, to enable in-depth browsing and searching of both the bibliographic and the full-text elements within the database. CU


Everyday Life & Women in America 1800-1920

A digital resource for the study of American social, cultural, and popular history, providing immediate access to rare primary source material from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History, Duke University and The New York Public Library. It comprises thousands of fully searchable images (alongside transcriptions) of monographs, pamphlets, periodicals and broadsides addressing 19th and early 20th century political, social and gender issues, religion, race, education, employment, marriage, sexuality, home and family life, health, and pastimes. Trial ends November 17, 2006. CU


North American Women's Letters and Diaries
Provides full-text diaries and letters from over 1,000 North American women from the colonial era through 1950. CU

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000
A resource for students and scholars of U.S. history and U.S. women's history. Organized around the history of women in social movements in the U.S. between 1600 and 2000, the website seeks to advance scholarly debates and understanding at the same time that it makes the insights of women's history accessible to teachers and students at universities, colleges, and high schools. 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

Poole's Plus (19th Century Masterfile)
Includes Poole's Index to Periodical Literature (1802-1906), supplemented by Stead's Index to Periodicals (1890-1902; the "British Poole's") and other indexes to 19th-century publications. 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.

Secondary Source Full-Text

ACLS History E-Book (HEB) Project
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


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

Women's Studies International
Covers the core disciplines in Women's Studies to the latest scholarship in feminist research. Coverage: 1972-present. 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 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 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.



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. 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?

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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