History Senior Research Seminar

Ferguson Protest, Washington DC, November, 25 2014. Photographer: Ted Eytan. Source: Wikimedia

2017 History Senior Seminar Research Guide

Welcome! This page supports research for the History Senior Seminar.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation with me.


Personal Librarian:
Shannon O'Neill
114 LeFrak Center, Barnard Library

Click on the plus signs below to expand and contract the content for each section. 


General Search Tips

The follow pertains directly to searching the Library Catalog (CLIO). Many of these tips may also apply to searching databases and digital collections; however, when it doubt look at the help guide, or “how to search” documentation, for a particular database.

● Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase: "reproductive justice”

● Use * for truncation (to find variant spellings and endings of a word): wom*n will find woman, women, womyn; feminis* will find feminism, feminist, feminists, etc.

● For more complex search, use AND and OR:

AND finds records which have all the search terms you entered.

OR finds records which have one of the search terms you entered, as well as records which have more than one of the terms. OR finds MORE.

○ For more help with using AND and OR, check our guide to advanced Boolean keyword searching.

● Use parentheses to group terms: pacifism AND (farm* OR agricultur*)

Take notes about what you are searching. This will help you to remember what search terms were helpful to you and which search terms were less helpful. This will help you be strategic as your research develops.

Browsing the stacks is another way to find texts. Topics in the history discipline frequently, though not always, fall into the following classifications in the Library of Congress classification system. You can go to the library stacks and browse the shelves for books with call numbers beginning:

CB - History of Civilization
D - World History and History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
E-F - History of the Americas
HC - Economic History and Conditions
HD - Industries. Land use. Labor.
HN - Social History and Conditions. Social Problems. Social Reform.
HQ - The Family. Marriage. Women.
HT - Communities. Classes. Races.
HX - Socialism. Communism. Anarchism.
JV - Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International Migration.
JZ - International Relations

History Research Methodology

The following are a few texts we have available in our library system that may help guide you in you research process:

Secondary Sources - Finding books, articles, media, and more in the Library Catalog (CLIO)

● If you know exactly what book (journal, video, etc.) you are looking for, you can search by Title, Author, ISBN, etc.

● It can often be helpful to start with a more expansive search (i.e. fewer terms entered into the search box), and then use facets and sorting to narrow down your results.

● To find items about a specific topic, first try a keyword search in All Fields

● One strategy for finding books in CLIO is to start with keywords related to your research, then look at the subject headings that are listed in catalog records of search results. For example, if you're interested in investigating the intersections between eugenics and midwifery, you might start by searching eugenics AND midwifery

● From the list of results, click on a title and look at the other subject headings listed, and you might be lead to subject headings like Midwifery > Great Britain > History > 20th century.

● Use the search facets on the left side of the results page to narrow down results by dates of publication, format, subject, location, and other features.

Secondary Sources - Finding books, articles, media, and more in Databases

You can use a similar strategy in CLIO when looking for articles on your topic. For example, enter: art* AND freedom. On your left hand side, you can click on “Articles.” You can use then use the facets on the left-hand side of the screen to narrow your results to "Scholarly publications only."

In addition to using the CLIO to find articles, databases are a great place to find journal articles. Most journal article databases allow you to limit by discipline or subject focus, a feature which is not supported by CLIO’s article search function. Here are a few that you may want to consider:

Academic Search Complete is a comprehensive scholarly, multi-disciplinary, full-text database, with more than 6,100 full-text periodicals, including more than 5,100 peer-reviewed journals.

Alt-Press Watch is a full-text database of selected newspapers, magazines, and journals of the alternative and independent press.

America, History and Life indexes scholarly literature on American history and culture of US and Canada, from prehistory to the present; enables searching by time period, with full text for selected items.

Gender Studies Database contains gender-engaged scholarship, including journals, papers, books, book chapters, govt. reports, discussion and working papers, theses and dissertations, and other sources.

Feminae indexes journal articles, book reviews, and essays about women, sexuality and gender in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, from 450 C.E. to 1500 C.E., with citations for Russia extended to 1613.

FRANCIS is a multilingual and multidisciplinary database with an international scope, covering humanities and social sciences

Historical Abstracts with Full Text provides selective indexing of historical articles from more than 1,800 journals in over 40 languages back to 1955 as well as the full text of more than 300 journals and over 130 books.

Humanities Full Text contains full-text and abstracts/citations of "noted scholarly sources in the humanities, as well as lesser known specialized magazines."

JSTOR has issues of scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences. Go to Advanced Search and limit to "History" to see results from journals in the subject area.

Lexis Nexus Academic is a full-text database especially good for government documents, case law, transcriptions of broadcasts, and business-related publications.

ProQuest includes many databases (some of which are specified below), including both citations and full-text of scholarly and popular literature.

Project Muse offers versions of peer-reviewed journals (and thousands of books) from university presses and scholarly societies, with an emphasis on humanities and social sciences.

Statistical Abstract of the United States is a statistical reference and guide to over 250 statistical publications and sources from government and private organizations. Provides more time-series, geographic and industry coverage than print publication

Primary Sources - Finding Primary Sources in the Library Catalog (CLIO)

If using the Library Catalog to find primary sources, make sure to include a date limit for the time period you are studying.  You can do this on the left side navigation menu by using the "Publication Date" facet.

Also, you could use the Subject (Genre) facet to narrow down to the kind of source you are looking for. Some examples:

● archives
● correspondence
● diaries
● interviews
● narratives
● memoirs
● sources

An example search: "Nuremberg Medical Trial" AND sources

Primary Sources - Finding Primary Sources in the Databases

You can also search for primary sources in a number of databases. Here are a few to try:

Ad*Access contains cataloged, digitized print advertisements from the first half of the 20th century

African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 covers African American newspapers from the antebellum era to the late twentieth century, with a particularly strong representation of papers from the Midwestern and the Southern United States.

Alt-Press Watch is a full-text database of selected newspapers, magazines, and journals of the alternative and independent press.

American Memory is a collection of primary source materials relating to U.S. history and culture compiled by the Library of Congress National Digital Library Program.

Black Studies Center combines Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, The HistoryMakers Videos and full transcripts for interviews with 100 contemporary African Americans, International Index to Black Periodicals

British Literary Manuscripts Online presents facsimile images of literary manuscripts, including letters and diaries, drafts of poems, plays, novels, and other literary works, and similar materials

Columbia Center for Oral Histories Portal searches over 6,000 interviews that cover a wide range of topics - from architecture to prostitution.

Confidential Print. Africa, 1834-1966 spans the full era of the modern European colonization of Africa, from the occupation of Algeria by France, through increasing British presence on the west African coast and around the Cape of Good Hope in the south, the Berlin Conference which set off the 'Scramble for Africa', the high-water mark of economic exploitation of Africans in the Congo Free State, rivalries amongst European powers and the era of withdrawal that followed the Second World War, Confidential Print: Africa is a fundamental resource for academics, students and researchers studying modern Africa and its recent history.

Defining Gender, 1450-1910 contains ephemera, pamphlets, college records and exam papers, commonplace books, diaries, periodicals, letters, ledgers, account books, educational practice and pedagogy, government papers from the Home Office and Metropolitan police, illustrated writings on anatomy, midwifery, art and fashion, manuscript journals, poetry, novels, ballads, drama, receipt books, literary manuscripts, travel writing, and conduct and advice literature.

Digital Scriptorium is an image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts, intended to unite scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research.

EuroDocs links to sites with primary historical documents for European countries and regions. Includes prehistoric and ancient Europe.

Genderstats: a Database of Gender Statistics is a web site created by the World Bank that provides statistics and basic demographic data on gender, population dynamics, labor force structure, education, and health.

Gerritsen Collection Women's History Online is especially rich in women's journals and other publications, scholarly medical and sociological studies, and housekeeping and advice manuals.

HathiTrust Digital Library a digital preservation repository and highly functional access platform. It provides long-term preservation and access services for public domain and in copyright content from a variety of sources, including Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and in-house partner institution initiatives.

ICON: International Coalition on Newspapers has a list of digitized international and United States' newspapers. There is also a searchable database for finding print collections.

India, Raj & Empire draws upon the manuscript collections of the National Library of Scotland, this searchable online resource provides access to digital facsimiles of diaries and journals, official and private papers, letters, sketches, paintings and original Indian documents containing histories and literary works. The collection documents the relationship between Britain and India in an empire where the Scots played a central role as traders, generals, missionaries, viceroys, governor-generals and East India Company officials.

Medieval and Early Modern Sources Online is collection of digitized editions of texts concerning economic, political, legal, and ecclesiastical history, such as treasury accounts, chronicles, papal registers, etc.

Medieval Family Life: the Paston, Cely, Plumpton, Stonor and Armburgh Papers contains full-color images of the original medieval manuscripts that comprise these family letter collections along with full-text searchable transcripts from the printed editions, where they are available.

ProQuest Congressional Publications allows researchers to view bills and laws, legislative histories, House and Senate documents and reports, and more. This database reaches as far back as 1789 and includes contemporary documents as well.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers - The Guardian (1821-2003) and The Observer (1791-2003) has full-text and full-image articles from The Guardian and The Observer.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers has a full-text and full-image articles from major American newspapers 1817-2009, including The New York Times, The Times of India, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and others.

ProQuest historical newspapers. Times of India (1838-2002) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue for the following titles: The Bombay times and journal of commerce (1838-1859), The Bombay times and standard (1860-1861), and The times of India (1861-current).

ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the U.S. is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic conditions of the United States. The online version includes monthly updates to tables, deep searching at the line-item level, powerful facets for narrowing search results, image and spreadsheet versions of all current and historical tables, along with links to provider sites.

The Sixties: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives 1960-1974 is a database that brings the 1960s alive through diaries, letters, autobiographies and other memoirs, written and oral histories, manifestos, government documents, memorabilia, and scholarly commentary.

Social and Cultural History: Letters and Diaries Online contains digitized letters, diaries, autobiographies, oral histories, and other personal narratives, some full-text searchable.

Television News Archive is a searchable archive of abstracts of news broadcasts from 1968 to present (ABC, CBS, NBC), 1995 to present (CNN), selected content from PBS and FOX News.

The Times Digital Archive, 1785-1985 provides full-text and full-image articles from the Times of London for the years 1785-1985. Browsing by Date does not work with Firefox. Features work best with Internet Explorer.

Twentieh Century Advice Literature: North American Guides on Race, Sex, Gender, and the Family contains 150,000 pages of fully searchable handbooks, manuals, textbooks, etiquette guides, self-help books, instructional pamphlets, and how-to books that illustrate both how Americans actually behaved and how they felt they ought to behave.

Women and Social Movements International collects published and manuscript sources documenting women's activism around the world, from the nineteenth century onward. Sources include letters, memoirs, conference proceedings, pamphlets, books, and journal articles, among others.

Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000 includes 105 document projects and archives, along with over 53,000 pages of full text documents. Examples of movements covered: abolitionism, anti-war movements, civil rights, and reproductive justice.

World Databank is a compilation of a number of World Bank data products, the most significant one being World development indicators (WDI).

Primary Sources - Finding and Using an Archives

Before you get started searching for your primary resources, check out our guide on doing primary resource and archival research!

This is a very short list of archival repositories that are close to Barnard's campus. For more help locating archival collections, navigating finding aids and scheduling research appointments with other archivists, or for an introduction to archival research, schedule a consultation with me. You can also use the ArchiveGrid to search across finding aids in over 1,000 archival repositories. ArchiveGrid doesn't include every finding aid from every institution in America, but it is the best search out there for searching on archival collections (many of which are not digitized and not online).


Writing, Citing, and Publishing

The Library's guide to Intellectual Property: Copyright, Fair Use, Permissions, and Citations is a great tool for understanding intellectual property. If you intend to use images or artwork in your thesis, or thinking about publishing your work, you'll want to consult this guide.  It also underscores the importance of citing your work.

Academic Commons collects, preserves, and makes accessible the scholarship and research of the faculty, staff, and students of Columbia University. Contribute your scholarship here! More information about submitting to Academic Commons is available in the Library’s guide to Academic Commons.

Chicago Manual of Style Online

CiteSource offers guidelines and templates for citing your research in a variety of citation styles, including MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style. The site also offers resources on copyright, intellectual property, and how the Web shapes information use. A publication of the Trinity College Library.

OWL: Purdue University Online Writing Lab provides general and subject specific writing tips and techniques, along with research advice and detailed citation and formatting standards for the APA, MLA, and Chicago styles.

Zotero is a free, open source program that allows you to quickly save, organize, format, and share your bibliographic citations.



Guide last updated on October 12,  2017 by Shannon O'Neill