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History Research Guide

This guide will help you start your research on a history topic for your research paper or presentation.

 Reference Books - Searching the Library Catalog - Searching Electronic Resources - Print Periodicals - Searching the Internet - Recommended Web Sites - Web Evaluation - Citing Your Sources


Reference Books

Reference books are a good place to start your research. The following list of books will help you narrow down your topic, find additional search terms, and get a general overview of your topic before you begin your research. This is not an exhaustive list, so be sure to look at the books shelved near these titles for additional books.

Dictionary of World Biography (10 vol.) REF CT104.D54
Cassell’s Chronology of World History: Dates, Events, and Ideas REF D11.W635
Encyclopedia of World History REF D21.E577
World Access: The Handbook for Citizens of the Earth REF D23.P46
The Facts on File Encyclopedia of the 20th Century REF D419.F33
American Eras (1600-1899) REF E162.A5144
REF E165.A49
REF E166.A48
REF E168.A5118
American Decades (1900-1999) REF E169.12.A414 to .A443
Encyclopedia of Asian History REF DS 31.E53
Encyclopedia of India REF DS 405.E556
Encyclopedia of African History REF DT 20.E53
Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes REF E77.G15
A Nation of Peoples: A Sourcebook on American’s Multicultural Heritage REF E184.A1.N2866
Encyclopedia of Modern Mexico REF F1234.D364
World War II: America at War, 1941-1945 REF D743.5.P56
Vietnam War Reference Library: Almanac, Biographies, Primary Sources REF DS557.7.H556

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Searching the Library Catalog

Once you have narrowed down your topic, search the library catalog for additional resources on your specific topic. Here are some search tips and strategies.

Try the following subject headings in the subject search screen (you will then want to scroll down the search results for additional related headings).

  • History, Ancient
  • History, Modern
  • History - Philosophy
  • Vietnamese Conflict (for materials dealing with the Vietnam War)
  • World War, 1914-1918 (for materials dealing with World War I)
  • World War, 1939-1945 (for materials dealing with World War II)

To conduct an advanced keyword search, go to the advanced search tab and try some of the following search strategies.

Remember: Select “as a phrase” in the first drop down menu for terms between quotation marks and Search in: “Subject” in the second drop down menu.

  • “world war” AND causes
  • "world war” AND atrocities
  • “world war” AND “united states”

You might also try select “all of these” and “Keyword” in drop down menus and search history asia? , history africa? or add any other country after history.

Note: The ? symbol placed at the end of the term is a truncation symbol that tells the computer to search for all words that start with the first part of the letters included. For example, asia? will search for asia, asian, and asians.

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Searching Electronic Resources for Articles and eBooks

You will find magazine, journal, and newspaper articles on history topics in many of the databases at OCC Library. This is a list of the most pertinent sources. You can find all of the databases that are available on the library's Periodicals and Electronic Resources page. If you are off campus, you will need to log on with your student ID and last name.

  • Britannica Online - Online encyclopedia with photos and more. Good for providing a general overview of your topic.
  • JSTOR - This database covers multiple disciplines but has great journal coverage in the topic of history.
  • America: History and Life - America: History and Life covers the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. This database has journals and some books.
  • History Reference Center - History Reference Center features full text from more than 1,990 reference books, encyclopedias and non-fiction books from leading history publishers and full text for more than 200 leading history periodicals. This is a great place to start your history research.

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Periodicals in Print at OCC Library

The following periodicals are found in the Periodicals section of the library and are filed in alphabetical order by title. You may also want to consult the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature to locate articles from the time period you are researching and to view the articles using microfilm. For a complete list of periodicals available, see our periodicals title list.

  • American Heritage  (12/1954 - Summer 2012)
  • American History  (9 years ago - Current)
  • American Historical Review  (9 years ago - Current)
  • Current History  (4 years ago - Current)
  • History Today  (4 years ago - Current)
  • Life (Microfilm: 11/1936-12/1972)
  • New York Times  (Microfilm: 1851 - Current)
  • Time  (4 years ago - Current; Microfilm: 01/1923-06/2008)

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Searching the Internet for Web Sites

The following Web sites will help you find reliable Internet resources that are of good authority for your research paper or presentation.

  • IPL2 - This site was developed by librarians as a reliable and efficient guide to Internet resources. This site is a searchable, annotated subject directory of more than 14,000 Internet resources that have been selected and evaluated by librarians.
  • DMOZ Open Directory Project – This human-edited directory of the Web breaks the topics into sub-topics and also provides “see also” references.
  • Google Advanced Search - Instead of using Google's default search, try the advanced search. There are a lot of tools that will give you better results, such as a box that lets you limit your results to a domain such as .edu or .gov.

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Recommended Web Sites

  • PBS History – Browse topics on the ancient world, biographies, United States, war & espionage, and the world. Site features include primary documents, timelines, further reading, film transcripts, and people & events.
  • Library of Congress - The Library of Congress' site has a lot of great primary sources available directly on their site. They have digital collections of documents, historic newspapers, photos, maps and more.
  • Digital History - This site contains biographies, primary documents, multimedia and more.

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Web Evaluation

Evaluating Web Sites - A quick and useful guide to help you evaluate the Web pages you find for purpose, authority, objectivity, relevance, currency, and responsibility.

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Citing Your Sources

  • Purdue OWL: Research and Citation Resources – A thorough guide to basic research and citing your sources using MLA, APA, and other formats. From Purdue University's online writing lab.
  • Guides to Cite It! – Provides style guides for APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, and others. From the University of Georgia Libraries.

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(jk 5/07, updated lc 12/11)​​