UCB Libraries

Student Studying

Resources for History 3050
Seminar on Space: The Final Frontier


Starting Your Research

Finding Sources in the CU Boulder Libraries

Finding Sources in Library Databases

Interlibrary Loan


Further Assistance

Starting Your Research


The first step to starting your research is to determine a topic and focus it into a researchable question. Reference resources can be a great place to start when you are seeing to develop a less-than-familiar topic. 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.


+ Some Reference Resources


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 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


Encyclopædia Britannica is one of the most complete and accurate information sources in the world. It contains both short and book-length articles on every subject. Search the encyclopaedias by subject, A-Z, index, and topic. Contains a world atlas, ability to compare countries, timelines, year in review, world data, notable quotations, and video browse. CU


Encyclopedia of Space Science & Technology CU


AccessScience: McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology Online is tailored to researchers and students looking for the most relevant, readable, and trusted sources of information in science and technology available. CU




Once you have determined the topic of your research and have focused it into a researchable question, you will need to develop a strategy for finding relevant primary and secondary sources.


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

  • Avoid using redundant or overlapping search terms, e.g. using "19th century" and "Victorian period" or using "United States" in the Making of America database

  • 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: space AND military AND "United States" (must find all terms)
  • OR: space OR astronautics (must find one of the terms)
  • NOT: Apollo NOT Creed (must find first term NOT second term)



  • Phrases: "United States" (must find that phrase in that order)
  • Synonyms: (space OR astronautics) AND "United States"
  • Truncation and wildcards:
    astronaut* will find astronaut, astronauts, astronautic, astronautics
    wom?n will find woman and women


The HIST 3050 Search Strategy Worksheet can be quite helpful in helping you develop search terms for your own topic.


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.

This step is crucial to efficient identification of quality primary and secondary sources for your research. Are you looking for primary or secondary sources? Covering what area of the world? During what time period?


For more information on combining keywords for the best results, see How Do I Use Keywords?


Finding Sources in the CU Boulder Libraries


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.


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.

Chinook Search


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:

Concept 1:


"United States"

Concept 2:




Concept 3:







primary & secondary sources

There are several ways to limit your 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, etc.
Concept 1:


"United States"

Concept 2:




Concept 3:




Concept 4:





primary sources


    • 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 from the previous search.
Concept 1:


"United States"

Concept 2:




Concept 3:




Concept 4:





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.

+ Other Chinook Tips


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.

  • Use the "Online Library Resources" search to limit your search to electronic reference works, e-books, 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).



Primary Sources on Microforms


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.


Finding Sources in Library Databases


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 on Find Articles & More: History and in other subject pages such as Government, Women and Gender Studies, and News & Newspapers.


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.



Secondary Source


Secondary-source databases can also double as primary-source databases if they cover the timeframe you are researching.


America: History & Life with Full Text

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 1964 to the present this database also provides full-text coverage of more than 196 journals and more than 92 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.Trial until 30 June 2010. CU


Historical Abstracts with Full Text

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


Humanities Full Text
Abstracts 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


PAIS International

Database covering global public policy and social issues including health, finance, economics, 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 1.5 million records dating back to 1915, each with bibliographic information and brief, descriptive 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. CU


Primary Source - General (News, Popular Press, etc.)


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


ProQuest Newspapers

Index with full-text of more current articles in Wall Street Journal and 500+ other major U.S. and international newspapers, news wires and other news sources. CU

American Memory

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


AP Images

Provides a sensory journey of photographs, audio sound bites, graphics and text spanning over 160 years of history. Student comprehension and recall skills will improve with visually stimulating imagery meant for use in research papers, theses, reports and PowerPoint presentations. Access is for one concurrent user. CU

Readers' Guide
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. Covers 1890-present. CU



Primary Source - Government Publications

There are three areas of government publications resources that will be useful for your studies in this class. They are government web sites, technical reports, and policy discussions. Many of these materials will appear when you do your searches in Chinook, but the resources that follow are some of the places you can go for additional titles. For additional resources, be sure to check out the resources under Government on the Find Articles & More page.

Tip: Your strategy worksheet has a list of questions that can help you determine where to search for resources. If you can determine the agency or government body that produced a primary source, you have taken the first step towards finding the materials you need.

Things to remember: Terminology is very important, especially when searching government databases. For example, if you were searching for "star wars" materials, the government actually refers to it as the "strategic defense initiative" (SDI). The secondary sources that you find can be a valuable resource in discovering agency names, government acronyms, and much more.

If you are not finding the materials you are looking for you can set up an appointment with Jennie Gerke to discuss the numerous resources available from government publications (see Further Assistance, below).

Government Web Sites on Space


See the HIST 3050 Search Strategy Worksheet for tips on searching government web sites.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
This is the home page for NASA. You can find here information on current and past mission, the history of the organization, annual reports, budget materials and much more.

Department of Defense (DoD)
This is the home page for the Department of Defense. You can find links to all the divisions of the department here as well as annual reports, budget materials and much more.

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
This is the office in the United Nations working on space issue. The main focus of this agency is to promote the peaceful use of space by all countries. From here you can find annual reports, space law, and actions taken by UN member countries in space.

Technical Reports

Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC)
Do not let the technical in the title of this database scare you. There are very technical reports in this database, but it also searches budget information, journal articles, defense school theses and web sites relating to the Department of Defense. Due to some of the search features, finding materials from the DoD web site listed above can sometimes be easier on this site. Not all of the material in this database will be full-text, but of those resources the declassified material is often available in the Government Publications Library. To get these resources you can call (303-492-8834) or email the department or Jennie Gerke the citation information from the database.

NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)
This database is much more technical in nature, but it contains the research and studies of NASA. More and more of the materials in this database are online, but the Government Publications Library has all the ones that aren't online. To get these resources you can call (303-492-8834) or email the department or Jennie Gerke the citation information from the database.


LexisNexis Congressional
In this database you will find hearings, laws, Congressional Research Reports, committee documents and much more. The majority of the content is available full-text, but again if you find a citation that is not you can call (303-492-8834) or email the department or Jennie Gerke the citation information from the database. CU

Declassified Documents Reference Service
This is a collection of declassified documents from the US government. This database is collected from materials declassified at presidential libraries and is not built around themed collections. CU

Digital National Security Archive
This is a collection of declassified documents from the US government. This database is built around 33 collections and was built through a combination of already declassified materials and titles acquired through the use of Freedom of Information act requests. CU


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.


+ No Full Text? - Where to Look Next



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



Interlibrary Loan


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:


+ Books and Microforms


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 three weeks to receive the material. CU



+ Articles

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.




Further Assistance


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:


+ From the Libraries


  • How Do I...? helpful web guides on a variety of research-related topics

  • Ask Us! email, chat, and phone reference services are available extended hours

  • Walk-up reference services at the Research Desk and Commons Desk in Norlin Library as well as at some branch libraries (see "Hours Staffed")



+ From Us



+ Organizing Your Bibliographic Citations


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?