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1) Use quotation marks to search for specific phrases like "voting rights." This will connect these two words and filter out documents that don't mention the words in sequence.
2) Be specific if you can. Identify proper names, campaigns, court cases, events or other words that may lead you to relevant sources. If you don't know what names to search do some additional background reading to generate a list.
3) Separate words with OR to find variations. When searching names use variations separated by the word "OR." "John Lewis" OR "John R. Lewis" OR "John Robert Lewis" OR "Representative Lewis" will bring up articles that contain any variation of his name.
4) Use NOT if you are getting results that aren't relevant and want to weed some out.
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Primary Source Portals
If you're not sure where to begin, start by searching the primary source portals below. These search across many collections and can lead you to the right primary source database for your topic.