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HIST 200: Find Sources

Search for Sources

The MC Library has access to different kinds of search tools: 

  • RaptorSearch searches across most of the information that you can access through the MC Library. Find books, e-books, streaming audio and video, and DVDs and CDs, as well as articles and other electronic resources from databases available through the library.
  • Databases are collections of articles, videos, images, or other types of sources. Some databases cover only one research area, like psychology or English. Other databases cover multiple research areas and are called multidisciplinary databases. Some databases are based on source type, like photographs or videos, instead of research area.

Use the tabs in the Search Tools box on this page to find suggested search tools to use for a variety of types of sources. 

MC students, faculty, and staff can access all of our search tools and online resources from on- or off-campus.

Research Skills & Tips:

Unlike Google, library databases can't understand an entire sentence. You'll need to break your topic down into the most important ideas: the keywords. Keywords are individual words or short phrases that represent the main ideas in your topic, thesis, or research question. 

Example Question: What was the role of women during the industrial revolution of America? 

Keywords: women role, American industrial revolution 

After you've identified your main ideas and some keywords to start with, think of additional search terms for each concept. These can be synonyms, related ideas, broader terms, or narrower terms. Since a database will match only what you type, using different terms for similar ideas can help you find more articles. 

Example Search Terms: 

  • women role: women rights, feminism, feminist growth, female workforce
  • industrial revolution: late 18th century, early 19th century, industrialization, manufacturing development 
  • America: American, United States, U.S. 

Click on the research issue you're having below to see tips for addressing it:

I'm Not Finding Enough Sources

I'm Finding Too Many Sources

I'm Finding Irrelevant Sources

None of These Tips Solved My Research Issue

Not Finding Enough Sources

  • Type the word OR between related search terms to get results containing either term. Put the related search terms in parentheses.
    • Example: "industrial revolution" and (women or female) and workforce
    • Example: government and regulate and (internet or "social media")
    Diagram shows social media & internet highlighted
  • Use a truncation character (often the asterisk, *, but it can vary by search tool), which is a symbol added to the root of a word to tell the search tool that you want all forms of that word. 
    • Example: elect* will search for elect, election, elector, electoral, electorate, electing, etc.
  • Use a wildcard character (often the hash sign, #, but it can vary by search tool), which is a symbol that replaces any character in a word.
    • Example: wom#n will search for woman or women.

Finding Too Many Sources

  • Type the word AND between the main ideas in your search to get results containing all ideas.
    • Example: women role and  "industrial revolution"
    • Example: government and regulate and internet and "free speech"
    Diagram shows overlap between gov't & free speech

Finding Irrelevant Sources

  • Type the word NOT before a search term that you do not want your search results to contain.
    • Example: election not "united states"
    Diagram shows social media & internet highlighted
  • Type quotation marks around a specific phrase to get search results that contain only that exact phrase.
    • Example: "social media"
  • Use the search tool's filters to target search results that will meet your needs. You'll find filters on the search results screen. The exact location and filtering options varies by search tool.
    • Example: use a publication date filter to find sources published in the last five years.
    • Example: use a source type filter to find only articles or only videos.

If the options above did not help you find useful results, you may want to:

  • change your search terms,
  • select a different search tool,
  • make your topic broader or narrower, or
  • get research help from a librarian.

Research Skills & Tips:

After you've selected your search tool, identified keywords, and fixed research issues, it's time to choose your sources. It is common to get more search results than you will use, so you must evaluate the sources you find to choose the best ones for your research.

Start by scanning the search results to locate sources that fit your research question or need. The search results page will include information about each source, such as the title, year, and abstract, to help you determine its relevance.

Once you've found a source you'd like to use, evaluate its credibility by considering the evidence, source, context, audience, purpose, and execution of the source. Learn more on the Evaluate Information and Fake News guide linked below.

Research Skills & Tips:

Search Tools for HIST 200

Academic articles, sometimes also called journal articles or scholarly articles, are relatively short publications that academic researchers use to communicate new findings and ideas to other scholars. Articles are compiled in scholarly journals, which are essentially academic magazines that come out on a schedule. Many journal articles are peer-reviewed, which means they've gone through a formal review process before being published. 

When & Why to Use Articles:

  • You need information based on research and expertise.
  • You need detailed information that focuses on a narrow topic.
  • You need to find peer-reviewed material or ensure that the information you find is accurate.

Search for Articles for HIST 200:

Author Information:

  • Sometimes information on the book jacket will give you clues about how to find more information.  
  • Start your research early, and pick two or three books to look at, just as soon as you have the assignment.  Reduce your stress level by picking a book that you already know has author credentials available.  
  • If you really want to read a particular book and can't find any information published about the author, you could possibly locate the author and interview him or her, if he or she is still living.

Search for Author Information for HIST 200:

When & Why to Use Scholarly Books:

  • You need to understand a complex topic (these are easier to read than journal articles)
  • You need very in-depth analysis of a topic
  • You need a broad understanding of one or more topics
  • You need a summary of existing research on a topic

Where to Go in the Library for Books on History:

General books on U.S. History are organized chronologically in the section labeled "E" and "F".   

American history from the colonial period through 1865 is in sections E186 to E655.

Browse the library shelves in these call number areas to find materials relating to the history of the U.S. and its regions.

E 186 - 199          Colonial history (1607-1775)

E 201 - 298          Revolution, 1775-1783 

E 300 - 453          Revolution to the Civil War, 1775/1783-1861

E 456 - 655          Civil War period, 1861-1865

F 1 - 975              United States Local History 

Search for Books and E-Books for HIST 200:

Research Skills & Tips:

Articles and Book Reviews in Academic Journals:

Also known as scholarly articles, or academic articles. Some journal articles are "peer reviewed," which means they've gone through an extra review process before being published. 

When & Why to Use Journal Articles:

  • Information is based on research and expertise
  • Information is detailed and focused on a narrow topic
  • The peer-review process (mostly) ensures that the information is accurate
  • They add to a growing understanding of a topic by contributing new ideas 

Search for Articles and Book Reviews for HIST 200:

Publications Information:

You can find very short reviews (usually one paragraph) in Books in Print, but these are not from scholarly journals. If you cannot find a review anywhere else, sometimes a reference to a review is listed on Title Reviews page in Books in Print.

Reviews from magazines like Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, or School Library Journal are intended for librarians and booksellers that are purchasing books for their library or bookstore.

Investigate the Historical Period in More Sources:

Newspapers are another good source of articles and reviews on current topics. 

Primary sources are original materials from people who have a direct connection with the event being investigated. Examples include speeches, diaries, letters, images, artwork, interviews, music, or other items created during the time of the event. 

When & Why to Use Primary Sources

  • Scholarly research should be based on facts and observation. Primary sources bring you into contact with the first­hand accounts of an event.
  • Primary sources expose you to multiple perspectives on issues of the past and present. Using primary sources encourages critical thinking and analysis in comparing sources that represent differing points of view.

Search for Primary Sources for HIST 200:

The MC Library has access to streaming videos and audio (as well as DVDs and CDs). You can find documentaries, educational videos, and mainstream movies. 

When & Why to Use Videos:

  • You need to include an expert's point of view, and a documentary on your topic includes an interview 
  • You are doing a presentation and need to include a visual

Search for Videos and Media for HIST 200:

Find Sources

"Find Sources." Magnifying Glass.

This page will help you choose where and how to search for your sources. As you search, use the tips on this page to help you evaluate each source you find.