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American History Research Guide


This guide is designed to help you get started with research in American history. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have questions or need some additional guidance. My contact info is below the Related Guides tab. Email is the best way to contact me initially. I'm always happy to meet in person, by phone, or online to discuss your research.


QuickSearch is the simple search option at the top of the Libraries homepage. It provides quick access to the library catalog and most (but not all) of the databases. There are pros and cons. It searches a very wide range of resources in a variety of formats. But your search options are somewhat limited. And searching across so many resources can produce are very large, even overwhelming search result.

See the Find Articles and the Find Primary Sources tabs to learn about searching with more focus and precision in databases for American history

QuickSearch: Some Quick Tips

If you are looking for a specific book, article, etc. and you know the exact title, QuickSearch is usually the quickest way to find it. Simply type the first few words of the title in the search box, in "double quotes" to search as a phrase: "scarlet and black".

You can also search for words and phrases in the millions of books, ebooks, articles, etc. indexed in QuickSearch.
- The asterisk is a wildcard, lets you look for different forms of a word: slave* also searches slaves, slavery, slaveholder, etc.
- Use AND (in caps) to combine terms and search more narrowly. Searching "queens college" AND slave* is more specific than searching just "queens college"
- Use OR (again, caps) to broaden a search by searching for alternative terms: "queens college" OR rutgers
- If you're using AND and OR together, put the OR terms in parentheses so they are searched separately: ("queens college" OR rutgers) AND (slave* OR enslav*)

In many cases, QuickSearch is searching in the full text of sources, so it's not uncommon to retrieve hundreds of thousands of results. See below on how to gain better control over your search result.

QuickSearch: Refining Your Search

Once you've completed your initial search, browse through the results. This may help you refine the search, perhaps suggest terms to add to the search.

There are additional limits to the left. Peer-Reviewed Journals, for example, is very useful. Under Resource Type, you can limit your search to books, articles, newspaper articles. etc. You can also limit by Subject, Creation Date, etc.

For additional search options, clicked Advanced Search in the upper right of the search results screen.

American History Collections in the Libraries

Rutgers University Libraries comprises over twenty libraries and centers in New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark, but the most substantial collection in American history is located in the Alexander Library on College Avenue Campus. There are also significant resources for women's history in the Douglass Library on Douglass Campus. Special Collections and University Archives is located in the basement of Alexander Library.

See the Find Books tab to learn how to have books delivered from on library to another.


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