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History Resources

General guide to history resources at RSU Libraries.

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 information. 


Learn about a Topic

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

While most dictionaries and encyclopedias are credible sources of information, they only summarize topics, and should not be used as a substitute for scholarly research.  Some professors will not allow you to cite encyclopedias in research papers, so be sure that you understand the expectations of an assignment beforehand.  Finally, be sure to choose sources wisely!  Encyclopedias and dictionaries should be published by a credible source.  (Wikipedia is NOT considered a credible source, so don't use it!)  


American History

World Civilization & History

You can also search the library's databases individially. The following databases contain sources that are relevant to  historical research:

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.

Class D: History (Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania)

          DA: History of Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Wales
          DAW: History of Central Europe
          DB: History of Austria, Hungary, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Czechoslovakia
          DC: History of France
          DD: History of Germany
          DE: History of the Greco-Roman World
          DF: History of Greece
          DG: History of Italy
          DH: History of Low Countries, Benelux Countries
          DJ: History of Netherlands (Holland)
          DJK: History of Eastern Europe
          DK: History of Russia, Soviet Union, Former Soviet Republics
          DL: History of Northern Europe, Scandinavia
          DP: History of Spain
          DQ: History of Switzerland
          DR: History of Balkan Peninsula
          DS: History of Asia
          DT: History of Africa
          DU: History of Oceania (South Seas)
          DX: History of Romani

Class E History (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-

Class 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