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History 191 (Malloy)

Library Research for History Capstone

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?

Subjects in Historical Abstracts

screenshot of subjects in Historical Abstracts database

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

Sometimes databases or search tool 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 to the subjects associated with this title to search related topics.