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History - General

This guide is intended to help you get started with finding relevant information related to your history class or topics of interest.

Finding Books and Articles

To find articles and ejournals search the library's online catalog WorldCat or search Databases. Please check with librarians to see if any journals or magazines are held in the library.

First, try a simple keyword search such as Civil War. Keyword searches produce a large amount of results. This type of search is broad and less precise. Fortunately, most online catalogs and databases have features to help you refine your search terms. Refinement features may include author, year, format, content, audience, or sub-topics.

Creating a search strategy:

Next, try Boolean searching. This type of searching allows you to combine keywords using operators AND, OR, and NOT. 

To narrow your results use AND with two or more concepts. Example: Civil War and Reconstruction. Results will include both terms.

To broaden your search use OR with synonymous or related words or phrases. Example:  "War of the Rebellion" Or "War Between the States" - This type of search expands the search so that you have one result or both.

Sometimes one of your search terms may produce a list of results that includes articles that are not relevant to your topic. Using the operator NOT eliminates words from your search and reduces the number of results. Example: Civil War NOT England. The word England will be excluded from the search. 

Full-text Databases: refers to electronic resources with access to the complete text of articles in journals, books, newspapers, theses, dissertations, and more. Illustrations, graphs, charts, and images may be included.

Browsing Areas: Auxilliary Sciences of History

Database Searching

Most databases are structured so that records are comprised of the following fields and make searching and retrieving a little easier:

  • Keyword
  • Author
  • Title
  • Title phrase
  • Subject
  • Journal
  • Abstract
  • Publisher
  • and more...


Searching Tips

1. Limit your search results to Full Text. This will weed out results to articles that have only abstracts or citations. You will want results with the full text of articles so you can read and print out. This will save you a lot time when you get 21,245 results.

2. Look at hyperlinked subject terms often found in the record information of the article. You can view related articles or get new ideas to focus on.

3 If your search terms are not yielding many results, try using synonymous words or phrases.

For example:

  • Instead of schooling or instruction try education
  • Instead of pupils use students

Print Journals

The library does not currently subscribe to any print History journals. We do, however, have back issues to History journals we once subscribed to.

  • Journal of American History
  • Journal of Southern History
  • Journal of African-American History
  • West Virginia History
  • Register of the Kentucky Historical Review