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Researching American History Topics

Page history last edited by pwjennings@... 11 years, 8 months ago

Learning Community: 

The Pursuit of Happiness - Liberal Arts


SDV-101 - Jennifer Morrison / ENG-111 - Stephen Brandon / HIS-121 - Thomas De Mayo

Scope  ll  Finding Books  ll  Finding Articles  ll  History Databases  ll  Online Search Techniques

Types of Resources  ll  Journals vs. Magazines  ll  Internet vs. Library Databases

Evaluating Resources   ll Citing Sources  ll Plagiarism  ll  Off-campus Access

RALC - Borrowing from Academic Libraries in Area  ll  Interlibrary Loan Form  ll  Need More Help?

Scope:  Covers early United States history.

Finding Print Books:

To look for books available at JSRCC Libraries, you can search the VCCSLinc Library Catalog


Sample Subject Key Words to search in catalog: United States History Colonial Period; King Philip's War; Slavery United States History; Slave Trade; Puritans New England; Indians of North America; French and Indian War; Seven Years' War; United States History Revolution, 1775-1783; Lexington Battle of; American Loyalists; Federal Government United States History; Constitutional History United States; Civil War 1861-1865War of 1812; Creek WarAbolitionistsAntislavery; Underground Railroad; Amistad Revolt; Gettysburg, BattleSuffragistsWomen Suffrage United States History


Browse books by Selected Call Number Subject Range:   E187-188 - U.S. History Colonial Period; E441-450 - Slavery United States History; E76-78 - Indians of North America (Eastern); E163-E208 - U.S. Revolutionary War; KF4510-4541 - Federalism & Constitution; E458-468 -U.S. Civil War; E449 - Abolitionists; E450 - Underground Railroad; JK1896 - Women's Suffrage


Selected Books available at JSRCC: 

Finding Online Books:



Provides access to over 10,000 online full-text books in a wide variety of subject areas including American history. To access off-campus, you will first need to create a NetLibrary account on a campus computer.  From the NetLibrary home page, click on Create a Free Account in the upper right hand corner of the screen.  


  • Click here for instructions on creating a NetLibrary account and getting started.
  • Click here for additional NetLibrary help.

Finding Online Articles:


Library Databases that cover American History


Academic Search Complete

Comprehensive scholarly, multi-disciplinary full-text database, with more than 5,500 full-text periodicals, including more than 4,600 peer-reviewed journals. In addition to full text, this database offers indexing and abstracts for more than 9,500 journals and a total of more than 10,000 publications including monographs, reports, conference proceedings, etc. The database features PDF content going back as far as 1887, with the majority of full text titles in native (searchable) PDF format. Searchable cited references are provided for nearly 1,000 journals (EBSCOhost)


Search Tips:

  • Try an Advanced Search.
  • Use the asterisk (*) as the truncation symbol to pick up all forms of a root word (e.g., slave* will find slave, slaves, slavery)
  • Exclude book reviews by selecting NOT from the boolean operator drop down menu.
  • Checkmark the Full Text box under the Limit your results section to limit your results to full text articles.


Search example:

abolition*AND john brown NOT book reviews

History Resource Center: U.S.

One-stop source of a variety of historical data.  Provides integrated access to over 1,000 primary documents, nearly 100 full text journals, and 2000 images and maps.  Reference sources include American Decades, American Eras, DISCovering U.S. History, and Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. (Gale) **Access restrictions: Only 2 users at any one time so be sure to log out when done.


Search Tips:

  • Try an Advanced Search.
  • Select Subject from the drop down menu on the left to find your keywords in the Subject.
  • You can limit your search to: a historic time period and document type (e.g., Biography, Overview Essay, Periodical, Primary Document, Viewpoint Essay).


Search example:  women's suffrage

Issues & Controversies in American History

Includes biographies, timelines, background articles, photographs, and maps that augment the curriculum-based coverage of historical events. Provides the points of view on all sides of the debates as they were promulgated at the time (Facts on File Services).


Search Tips:

  • Browse through topics by using the Subject Index option or the More Research Topics option.


Search example:

  • Subject Index:  Politics and the Presidency

  • More Research Topics:  Slavery and the Civil War


Digital archive of full text core journals in humanities, social sciences and sciences. It contains the entire runs of over 500 hundred important scholarly journals, from the first volume up to the volumes published 3-5 years ago.  JSTOR deliberately does not have the most recent volumes of the journals in order to protect the publishers’ current revenues.  Each journal has a "moving wall" of 3-5 years after which the current issues are added to JSTOR.  For more information and a list of journals we own through JSTOR, clicker here.


Search Tips:

  • Try an Advanced Search.
  • Use the asterisk (*) as the truncation symbol to find all forms of a root word (e.g., slave* will find slave, slaves, slavery)
    Use quotes ( "  " ) to find an exact phrase (e.g., "trail of tears")
  • Exclude book reviews by checkmarking the Article box from the Limit to: Type section.
  • Limit your search to a specific Discipline/s and/or Journal/s (e.g., African American Studies, American Indian Studies, History)


 Search example:

  cherokee* AND "trail of tears"

Project Muse

Started as a not-for-profit project by Johns Hopkins University Press, it provides online access to over 300 high quality humanities, arts, and social sciences journals from 60 scholarly publishers.  Full text of most journals are covered from the past 10-15 years.  However, for titles common to Project MUSE and JSTOR, Muse links to articles from the back issues archived in JSTOR. (Johns Hopkins University Press)


Search Tips:

  • Try an Advanced Search.
  • Use the asterisk (*) as the truncation symbol to find all forms of a root word (e.g., slave* will find slave, slaves, slavery)
    Use quotes ( "  " ) to find an exact phrase (e.g., "trail of tears")
  • Exclude book reviews by checkmarking the Articles Only (No Reviews) box from the Additional Search Options: Type of Content section.
  • Limit your search to a specific Discipline by selecting from the By Discipline menu (e.g., American Studies, African American Studies, History).


 Search example:

  loyalistsOR tories OR royalists OR "king's men"

Harp Week: The Civil War Era (1857-1877)

Provides access to the content and pages of Harper's Weekly. The Civil War Era section covers issues published from 1857­1877. The database provides indexing that matches 19th century words, phrases and images with today's terminology as well as digital images of every page of the magazine. Searches can be done by occupation or role in society, or by searching any combination of four indexes: subject, illustrations, literature, and publishing. (HarpWeek, LLC.) 

Oxford African American Studies Center

Provides access to the three-volume Encyclopedia of African American History 1619-1895, the three-volume Black Women in America, and the highly acclaimed Africana, a five-volume history of the African and African American experience. The Center is also in the process of including contents from the African American National Biography and the Encyclopedia of African American Art and Architecture. In addition, AASC offers other key resources from Oxford's reference program, including the Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature and selected articles from other reference works.  (Oxford)

If you have the citation of an article, how to obtain the full text?



Selected Web Sites: 


Citing Sources:

To learn how to compile your Works Cited list in MLA, click here.

Need more help?

Visit the reference desks at JSRCC Libraries or Ask a librarian@JSRCC!


Created on 9/14/08.  Last updated on 4/3/09.

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