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HIS 132 - American History II: Doing Research in History

This course is a survey of American history from the Civil War era to the present. Topics include industrialization, immigration, the Great Depression, the major American wars, the Cold War, and social conflict.



You need a credible source for your general interest or to do some background reading to get keywords Newspapers, magazines, credible websites, documentary films
You need to do general research a topic (eg Civil War nurses, the Aztecs, French Revolution, Joan of Arc) Books, ebooks, reference materials (encyclopedias, secondary or tertiary sources)
You need a scholarly article for an assignment Online Databases from Library's page
You need a primary document Primary Documents

It's All About the Keywords - History Style

The key to a successful search is keywords. You will have to see what combination of keywords gives you the best results.

For example in the Proquest Central

  • the keywords "French Revolution" give you 104,229 results. Note the keywords "French Revolution" are in quotations to hold the words together. Without the quotes you'll get over 554,000 results.
  • "French Revolution" AND Bastille gives you 8,498 results. Note the AND is in all caps. That is a Boolean Search term and tells the search machine in the database that you only want records that contain BOTH terms.
  • To further narrow you can add more words such as "French Revolution" AND Bastille AND monarchy.
  • If you aren't certain of the search terms you can use OR. Such as Napoleon or Waterloo (61,000 results)
  • If you are getting results you don't want, try a NOT. For example, Napoleon NOT Waterloo (21,000 results)


Can It Pass the Credibility Test?

Using the CRAP Test to Find Credible Resources


  • CURRENCY How recently was this information published/posted? Can you find a publication date?
  • RELIABILITY:  Is the information supported by evidence? Can it be confirmed by other sources?
  • AUTHORITY:  Who wrote the information - are they an expert or knowledgeable in their field? (i.e. For health information, did a doctor or nurse write it? For science information, did a scientist or researcher write it?)
  • PURPOSE / POINT OF VIEW:  Why was it written? To sell something? To sway opinion? Is it biased toward a particular point of view?

Reference Book Collection - Print

Project Gutenberg

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