Skip to main content

HIST 4394 - Civil Rights in the 20th Century

Search Tips

Not sure how to construct the right kind of search for finding specific eras, events, or people?  Try to focus your search on three keyword concepts:  Event, Text, and Topic.  See examples below.


KEYWORD
CONCEPTS

TIPS EXAMPLES
Event
  • Start with the general event, and then narrow it down to specifics.
  • Look for key people involved
  • Civil War U.S.
  • Fort Sumter
  • Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth
Text
  • Primary sources
  • Secondary sources
  • Letters, historical newpapers, Congressional publications (ProQuest Civil War, American Memory)
  • Biographies, scholarly articles, historiography (Historical Abstracts, America: History & Life, JSTOR)
Topic Use a topic related to your central argument, such as:
  • Event(s)
  • Country
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Economy or Trade
  • Exploration
  • Slavery
  • Antislavery, Abolition Movements
  • Quakers,
  • Feminism
  • Caribbean and West Indies
  • Cotton, sugar, and slaves


Then, think about how you can combine your keywords using AND or OR.

So how does this translate?  Let's say you were writing a paper the origins of the U.S. Civil War. Some of the searches you could try include:

  • Cotton AND slavery
  • Abolitionist movement AND women
  • West Indies OR Caribbean AND slavery

Quotation Marks

Use these to limit your search to an exact phrase.

Example: "Antebellum South" limits your search to the topic. (**Try Googling your name, or your professor's name, with and without question marks around the name).

Combining Search Terms

In an "Advanced Search" option, you can connect search terms the following ways:

AND - narrows your search results by looking for two (or more) keywords at the same time.
Example:  "jacob astor" AND "fur trade" gets results that include both terms. Add a third term, for example, AND "explor*" to get even more specific results. (Note that "explor" has an asterisk - this gives you all variations of the word (see Truncation below).

OR - expands your search results by searching for more than one keyword at a time.
Example: "native american" OR "american indian" searches for results that include either term.

Tip: use ONE search term per search box.

Truncation

You can use truncation to search for all the endings of a word in one search. Most search tools use the asterisk (*), but some use and exclamation point (!) or dollar sign ($). Check the help function if your search isn't working.

Example: Shakespear* searches for Shakespear, Shakespeare, Shakespearean, Shakespeare's, etc.

Wildcard

A wildcard lets you search for different letters in a word. This can be useful to search for plurals and alternate spellings. A question mark is used in place of the letter.

Example: "wom?n" searches for "woman," "women," and "womyn."