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HST 7000 - Historical Methods: Home

HST 7000: Historical Research Methods - Searching Tips

You can use these searching tips for your other classes too.

  • Article databases and the catalog don't recognize phrase searching, so break your topic into the main keywords or concepts.  For example, if your topic is the role of women nurses in World War I, don't type "what was the role of women nurses in World War I" in the search box.  Instead, type in "world war i AND women and nurs*" or something similarly structured.

  • Try to think of as many different ways to describe your topic as you can.

  • When you find a good article, look at their footnotes or endnotes to see what articles the author read--you might find a few good ones that you can use.  See box below for how to find articles when you have a citation. 

  • Use truncation to expand your search results, for example, if you type in "polit*" it will capture politics, political, politicize, etc.  Some databases do this automatically, but many do not. 

  • Click on linked author names, subject headings, or any other descriptive terms in book and article descriptions.


If you need to search for books, there are three options at your disposal: the University Libraries, OhioLINK and WorldCAT catalogs.  If you're having trouble finding a book's availability, be sure to contact me.

You find books in catalogs or databases. You can begin with the Wright State catalog. If you're having trouble finding books on your topic in the Wright State University catalog, try using the OhioLINK catalog. If you're searching in the OhioLINK catalog, remember to look under Library Holdings to see if Wright State owns the book before you request it.

You can also find books in a database called WorldCat. WorldCat has all the stuff--books, journals, archives, sound recordings and more!--from most university libraries in the US and others around the world. If you're looking for a book, be sure to put a check here:
worldcat books

When you get your list of results, check to see if the book is in the Wright State library (the green symbol will be there); if you want to see if it's in OhioLINK or if you can request it via Interlibrary Loan, click the "Find It" link.

worldcat request

You will see your options here (click the Find It! button to see if it's in OhioLINK):
worldcat options

Article Databases & Bibliographies

You find articles or article citations in databases or annual bibliographies.  For the most part, these will all be secondary sources.  The ones listed below will have articles or article citations that are most relevant to this class.  Please note that if we do not have the article you need you can request it via Interlibrary Loan, a free service.  Never pay for an article as a student!


IMPORTANT: In the databases below you'll see this link/button:   .  If you don't see a link to the full text of the article, click on the Find It button!  It will open a new window or tab in your browser and it will show you if we have the full text of the article through one of our other online databases or if we have the journal that your article is from in print.

If you need to get the print article, be sure to note what volume you need and double-check that we do actually have that exact volume.  Write down ALL the information about the article, including the call number of the journal.  If you don't know where to find the print, someone at the Information Desk will be happy to help you.

America: History & Life
Covers history of the United States and Canada. You can limit by time period in this database and in Historical Abstracts.

Historical Abstracts
Covers history from countries other than the United States and Canada.

The most recent articles may not be in JSTOR, depending on the journal. Remember that you can locate the articles in other databases such as Historical Abstracts or America: History and Life and they'll link your to the article in JSTOR.  Some articles go back to the 19th century.

1. Click on the Advanced Search option below the search box.
2. Put a check mark in the Article box.
3. Type your keywords in the top and then scroll down to put a check mark next to History and/or any other relevant disciplines.
4. Be sure to check the dates on your results! The first hit could be from 1896! You can sort by date if you want.

Google Scholar
This is the only free scholarly article database on the list. In order to see if you can get a copy of the article(s) you need, you have to go through the link above if you're off campus. If you don't, the journal publishers whose websites Google Scholar searches have no way of knowing you are a student whose university subscribes to the journal and they'll try to charge you for the articles.

Arts & Humanities Citation Index
Use this database to do citation searching--this allows you to see who has cited a particular article or author.  This works best with articles that are about 5 years old or older.  For caveats and particulars, please contact me. 


There may or may not be an annual bibliography published on your topic.  They tend to be on more narrow subjects (such as Victorian studies, slavery, Mennonite life) than the databases above.  Some are available for free online but others (such as the Bibliography of British & Irish History) are paid subscriptions like the databases.  A very few are still published in print, such as the Eighteenth-Century Current Bibliography.  Additionally, journals will sometimes publish an annual bibliography in the last issue of the year or as a supplement.

A good way to find out if there is an annual bibliography on your topic is to Google [your topic] bibliography.  It helps to use the Advanced Search in Google and limit to .edu or .org domains.  You can also add: or to your Google search.

Government Information

Government documents can be a great source of information that you can't get in other materials.  Locating current information is pretty easy, as most publications are online and searchable through GovInfo, which provides online access to information from all three branches of the Federal Government. Additionally, government documents (both print and online) come up in catalog searches.  There is no way to isolate them from the books (they are coded the same as books) in either the Wright State or OhioLINK catalog.

If you want to locate historical government publications you can use the following print indexes you'll have to request them from OhioLINK.  Currently, Wright State University Libraries only retains the last five years of government publications in hard copy and microfiche.  Our catalog also contains links to current and older government documents.

Online A Descriptive Catalogue of the Government Publications of the United States, September 5, 1774-March 4, 1881

Hard copy  3rd floor Z 1223 .A 1970 v.1-2

Use the GPO Catalog for publications 1976 to present.

Online Checklist of United States Public Documents 1789-1909, Congressional: to Close of Sixtieth Congress; Departmental: to end of calendar year 1909 
3rd floor Z 1223 .A113 1962

Union Bibliography of Ohio Printed State Documents, 1803-1970 
Hard copy Reference & Archives Reference Z 1223.5 .O4U5
This 1973 publication by the Ohio Historical Society provides brief descriptions the histories of Ohio government agencies, along with a bibliography of their publications.

Here is a list of some historical gov docs that you have access to:

Below are some resources that will be relevant for history students.

Evaluating Journals

Finding the full text of an article when you have the citation

How would you find the full text for the following citation?  This happens most frequently when you look in the footnotes or bibliography of an article--this is a great way to find primary sources on your topic as well.  There are two methods for finding a citation:

Braithwaite, Alex, Jessica Maves Braithwaite, and Jeffrey Kucik. (2015)  "The conditioning effect of protest history on the emulation of nonviolent conflict." Journal of Peace Research 52, no. 6: 554-557.

Method 1

  1. Go to the Library's EJournals Publications search.
  2. From the search box, type in the title of the journal (Journal of Peace Research).
  3. Do not type your article title in the box.
  4. If Wright State University Libraries owns the rights to the journal, see if we have the year, volume, and issue number you need.
  5. If Wright State University Libraries doesn’t have the journal you want or doesn’t have the year/volume/issue you need, use Interlibrary Loan.

Method 2

  1. From the home page of the University Libraries, use the Quick Search box.
  2. In quotations, type in the title of your article ("The conditioning effect of protest history on the emulation of nonviolent conflict.")
  3. In the results, if the article is available, you will see either the citation or a link out to the full-text
  4. If you do not see a full-text link out, be sure to select the yellow "Find-It" button.  You may find a full-text link to either another service we subscribe to or a link to InterLibrary Loan.

HST 7000: Identifying Archival Repositories and Their Collections

To find an archive near you whose collections you can browse and research, select "Identifying & Accessing Primary Sources" under the "Primary Sources" tab.  "Identifying & Accessing Primary Sources" also contains links to published primary sources.

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