The following resources as designed to support IEP students with finding articles and books on a variety of topics including American history.
Getting Organized - An Overview of the Research Process
As you begin your research, consider taking the following steps.
1. Create a research question or statement; an example might be:
- What was the experience of pioneer women during the America's westward expansion period?
2. Create a list of search terms (also known as keywords) that will help you find information about your question or statement
- west, westward movement or expansion, 1860s, women, pioneers, narratives
3. Identify the types of periodicals and other sources you need for the assignment (number of books, articles or websites)
4. Select and search in the appropriate subscription databases
5. Cite your sources in MLA Citation Style
Getting your Research Started
You may or may not know a lot about your American history topic before you begin your research. Often general or specialized encyclopedias, other types of reference books or credible web sites can be used to gather basic information.
- Using your list of search terms, search the Oviatt Library Catalog for books
- Keyword vs. Subject search. These two things sound the same but work differently when you are searching, so be sure to try both.
- Title or author search if you know exactly what book you need.
- Write down the location and call number so you will know where to find the book.
- Finding Books in the library - reading a call number
- Online Encyclopedias
- Internet Search Engines such as Google, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves can also be appropriate tools for starting your research when you aren't familiar with a topic. However, it is important to verify this information with a credible source in the library. Information obtained from such search engines may not be reliable. Anyone can make a web site or add information to something like Wikipedia.
Developing a Thesis
You may want to take a look at the guide from The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. This website may be useful to refer to when you are creating your research question or statement.
Searching for Articles Through Databases at the Oviatt Library
The following databases may be useful to search for information on American history topics.
Academic Search Premier (EBSCO) - Abstracts to 3,000 journals (over 1,500 peer-reviewed journals), with full text to more than 2,000 of the journals. Dates may vary, most from 1985-present.
America: History & Life (EBSCO) - Indexes 1,700 journals as well as dissertations on the history and culture of the United States and Canada. 1964-present.
Gale Virtual Reference Library - Database of encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. Provides searchable full-text e-book versions of over 3,500 reference works, including multi-volume encyclopedias, biographical collections, business plan handbooks, company history compilations, consumer health references, and specialized handbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. in a wide range of subject areas.
GeneralOne File (Gale) - Indexes over 9,700 journals; full text to over 5,000 journals, 1980-present. This database is also accessible through the Los Angeles Public Library. See "Finding Articles When Off-Campu" below for more details.
Want additional places to search? More articles covering American history topics may be explored through the Oviatt Library's History databases. To search for articles on topics other than American history, visit our Databases by Subject page.
Searching in the Journal of American History
If you wish to search only in the Journal of American History, click on the "Full text available from Academic Search Elite" link. Next, click on the "Search within this publication" link near the upper right of your screen. You will then be able to enter your terms to search only in this particular journal.