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History 100 (Amussen)

Library Research for The Historian's Craft

Search Strategies

1. Utilize appropriate limiters and specific fields.

  • date limiter, articles only, title field etc.

2. Use terminology related to your topic.

  • from preliminary readings or reference material e.g. books from class, Credo, Oxford Reference
  • by skimming through initial search results
  • in considering the terminology of the time period

3. Join different terms with AND.  Join similar terms with OR.

  • gender AND propaganda
  • community OR society

4. Use truncation (often *) to look for variations of a term.

  • communit* to search for community OR communities

5. Search for a phrase using quotation marks.

  • "labor dispute"
  • "Pullman strike"
  • "social movement"
  • "San Joaquin Valley"

6. If you do not retrieve any results,

  • broaden your search. e.g. from Advertising to -->> Advertising OR "Mass media"
  • narrow your search e.g. "navy technology" to ---> a specific type of navy technology e.g. submarine
  • examine your terminology. Am I using appropriate search terms?
  • consider if the database is suitable. Does this database include the content I need?

Use Metadata to Your Advantage (e.g.Subject Headings)

Sometimes databases or search tools use controlled vocabulary to describe the resources available. Subject Headings in UC Library Search are an example. Try *new* searches using with subject headings. 

A search in UC Library Search for "race AND California" leads to a book titled Race and Homicide in Nineteenth Century California.


Scroll down in the book's record to the subjects associated with this title to search related topics: A screenshot of Subject Headings like "Homicide -- Calfornia -- History" in a library record

Subjects in Historical Abstracts

screenshot of subjects in Historical Abstracts database