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American History Research Guide

QuickSearch for Articles

QuickSearch is the simple search option at the top of the Libraries homepage. It provides quick access to many, buy not all, of the the Libraries' article databases, as well as the catalog, and other resources. There are pros and cons. It searches a very wide range of sources. But your search options are somewhat limited.

See the Home tab to learn more about searching across resources with QuickSearch. Once you've completed a search, one of the limits to the left of the search results will be Peer-Reviewed Journals. 

Note that QuickSearch will not search America: History & Life, the standard database for scholarly articles in North American history. Searching in America: History & Life or in one of the other databases listed below, you will conduct a more targeted search, and you will have a wider range of search options.

America: History & Life

America: History & Life is the standard database for scholarly articles in North American history. It covers all historical periods. It indexes articles published from 1960 to the present, appearing in over 1,800 journals. It also indexes, selectively, key journals back to the late nineteenth century.

Search Tips: Keyword Searching in America: History & Life

Type the term or terms you want to search in the search box on the right. Select where you want to search in the drop-down menu on the left. The drop-down menu defaults to "Select a Field." If you don't select a field, you'll do a keyword search; that is, you'll search in all of the fields of the articles in the database: in the titles of the articles, the authors of the articles, the subject headings, abstracts (brief synopsis) of the articles, ect.

Keyword searching in a nutshell:
- Use "double quotes" to search for a phrase: "new jersey"
- * is a wildcard, will search forms of a term: abolition* also searches abolitionist, abolitionists
- There are three rows of search boxes. By default, your keywords, your search terms in each row are connected with and; searching with and means that all of your keywords have to show up together in the record of an article that appears in your search results. The more rows, the more terms you search together, the more specific your search becomes:
--- "new jersey" and abolition* and  is a less specific search, will retrieve more articles, than: "new jersey" and abolition* and quaker*
- You can also combine alternative terms with or. It's simplest to combine them in the same search box. The more ors you use, the broader you search becomes. America: History & Life will retrieve records of articles than contain any of your keywords:
--- slave* or enslav* in a search box will make your search broader, retrieve more articles, than simply: slave*

Search Tips: Additional options in Advanced Search

America: History & Life defaults to Advanced Search. Advanced Search is not complicated, difficult to use. It simply gives you a wider range of search options, more control over your search.

The box above describes how to construct a keyword search, which searches across all of the fields in the records of the articles in the database: author, title, abstract (brief synopsis), and more. Sometimes searching in specific fields is a better, more efficient option. For example, if you're looking for articles by a specific author, type his/her name, ("ambrose, stephen") in the first search box and select the Author field in the drop-down to the left. In the second box, you could search for a word or words in all the fields, in the abstract, in the title, etc.

If you're searching by topic, searching the subject field will give your search more focus, specificity. A good strategy is to start out with a well thought out keyword search. Then look at the records of the articles that you think will be helpful. You can click one of the subject headings and search just one subject, but often that's too broad, will get you hundreds, even thousands of articles. Instead, try a subject in the first search line, a keyword/all fields in the second; or search two subjects; or a subject in the first line and an author in the second. Try different combinations of terms and fields and see what works best for you.

One More Tip: Limiting by Date in America: History & life

In Advanced Search, check out the additional search options towards the bottom of the search page. In particular, on the left, "Historical Period" let's you select a range of years. On the right, you can also limit by date of publication.

Getting the Fulltext of the Articles

Many of the records of the articles you find in America: History & Life and other databases will have direct links to the fulltext of the article. If not, click on Get It @ R. Get It @ R will (usually) provide links to fulltext outside of the database. If you don't see those links, click Sign-In, then Article Delivery. We'll provide a PDF copy, usually within a day.

Other Article Databases

The databases listed below may also be useful. To see the full list of databases, from the Libraries homepage, click Find a Database. For databases for primary sources in American history, click the "Find Primary Resources" tab. 

Academic Search Premier: Multidisciplinary
Anthropology Plus: Anthropology
ATLA : Religion
Bibliography of the History of Art: Art
EconLit: Economics
ERIC: Education
Exploring Race in Society: both primary and secondary sources
Historical Abstracts: Non-US history, the rest of the world
History of Science, Technology & Medicine
Medline: Medicine
MLA Bibliography: Literature
PAIS: Public Policy (back to 1914)
PsychInfo: Psychology
Sociological Abstracts: Sociology
Women Studies International: Women's, Gender Studies
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts: Political Science
JSTOR: a very useful database because it has excellent chronological coverage, back to the first volume of all of the journals indexed. Also let's you search for terms in full text, which is sometimes useful. But for many journals JSTOR does not have current articles, and it only indexes a relative handful of journals in American history. Yes, all of the articles are available in fulltext, but "Get It @ R" will link from America: History & Life (or any other database) to full text in JSTOR. Why limit your search to articles in such a small number of journals? Why not search for current scholarship?


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