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American Military History

General guide to assist students and faculty with American Military History.

Library Resources

The Explore RSU Libraries search box on the library website is a great place to start your research. It searches all the library's resources in one place including books/ebooks, journal and news articles, streaming video, and government publications. 

Learn about a Topic

Some sources, such as encyclopedias or chronologies, are great for gathering general information on a topic.  If you need definitions of words or concepts or background information, these sources are a good place to start.  



The academic databases listed on this guide are excellent sources for magazine, news, and journal articles. Library databases are different from online search engines like Google, so you will need to master a few basic concepts in order to use them effectively. 

Exclude irrelevant words

When using the databases, you should exclude all extraneous words from your searches. First, leave out all articles (a, an, the) in your search. Next, narrow your search terms down to two or three words that describe exactly what you hope to find For example, if you are writing a paper about the theme of discrimination in Frankenstein, narrowing your search terms down to discrimination and Frankenstein will likely retrieve a manageable list of more precise results.

Select and refine search terms

After you have selected your initial search terms, list any synonyms or related terms that might be relevant to your topic. For example, if your search terms are Frankenstein and discrimination, you might want to try synonyms such as "prejudice" or "intolerance" in place of discrimination. You may even replace discrimination with a related term, such as "inhumanity." Successful searches are often the result of trying out a variety of terms. Most databases will provide you with suggestions of additional or alternate search terms to use, which can lead you to better results in a shorter amount of time.

Combine or exclude terms

Two or more search terms may be combined in different ways to yield different results. The connectors AND, OR, NOT are useful search tools, and most databases have these built in to make searching easier. Use the connector AND to yield results that contain both search terms. Use OR for results that contain either term. Use NOT to exclude results that contain a specific term.

Try different databases

Different databases index different content, and selecting the right database is just as important to successful searching as choosing the right search terms. A search that retrieves few or no results in one database may work well in another. If you retrieve too few or irrelevant results in one database, try a different one.

Scholarly v. Popular Sources 

If you are not familiar with scholarly publications, it can be difficult to tell the difference between scholarly and popular periodicals. There are no definitive rules for distinguishing between the two, but here are some guidelines:

Scholarly (e.g., academic journals):

  • Are written by professionals within an academic field or discipline.
  • Contain research projects, methodology, and theory.
  • Have few, if any, advertisements.
  • Use college-level or specialized vocabulary of the discipline.
  • Include articles with extensive bibliographies, footnotes, or other documentation.
  • Contain graphics that are often black & white and consist of tables, charts, and diagrams.
  • Are peer-reviewed or refereed.

Popular (e.g., magazines, newspapers):

  • Are written by journalists.
  • Contain general news articles written to inform, update, or introduce a new issue.
  • Have many full-color, full-page advertisements.
  • Use a general, non-technical vocabulary.
  • Include articles with little or no documentation.
  • Contain graphics that are often full-color pictures and illustrations.

Most books and other items in the library are organized by the Library of Congress Classification system. In that system, American and World History are in the D, E and Fs. Military history can be in any of those areas usually depending on geographic location and time period of the subject. You'll find materials in the Main Circulating Stacks (3rd floor).

Here are the subjects associated with specific call numbers, in case you'd like to browse. However, if you are looking for something specific, searching the library catalog is usually quicker.


D General World History (All Except North and South America) 
    DA Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) & Ireland
    DAW Central Europe
    DB Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia
    DC France, Andorra, Monaco
    DD Germany
    DE Mediterranean Region, Greco-Roman World
    DF Greece
    DG Italy
    DH Belgium, Luxemburg
    DJ Netherlands (Holland)
    DK Russia and former Soviet Republics, Poland
    DL Northern Europe, Scandinavia
    DP Spain, Portugal
    DQ Switzerland
    DR Balkan Peninsula
    DS Asia
    DT Africa
    DU Oceania, Australia, New Zealand


E History (General America and United States)
    184.5-185.98  African Americans
    186-199 Colonial History
    201-298 Revolution
    300-453 Revolution to Civil War
    456-655 Civil War
    660-738 Late Nineteenth Century
    740-837.7  Twentieth Century
    838-887 Late Twentieth Century, 1961-

    895-912  Twenty-first century

F History (Local U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America)

    1-975 United States Local History
    691-705   Oklahoma
    1001-1140  Canada
    1201-3799  Latin America, South America