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United States History Research Guide

Primary and secondary sources for the study of US History.

Presentation & Workshop Docs

Class Outline

HIST585/ REL700: Histories of Religions in the US

Section A: Introductions & Overview (2:30-2:40)

Discussion: What is your biggest research/ writing strength? Weakness?

Overview of Emory Libraries: Research Collections & Services

Section B: Secondary Sources for writing literature and historiographical reviews (2:40-3:10)

A. Curated conversations

i. Handbooks & Companions (ie. Cambridge Companions, Blackwell Companions)

            ii. Bibliographies (ie. Oxford Bibliographies)

            iii. Review Essays & Roundtables (ie. Reviews in American History and)

History Compass)

B. Navigating library catalogs

            i. Library Search: keyword vs. subject heading searches

            ii. Worldcat and ILL

Metadata: Knowing how various collections are described can be essential to finding what you need. Take theses and dissertations, for example. To find dissertations from Emory from the History Department, the best terms to search are EMORY THESIS PH.D and HISTORY and not the term dissertations.

C. Understanding the core databases

            i. Indexes (ie. American History & Life; Historical Abstracts, ATLA)

            ii. Full-text multi-disciplinary databases (JSTOR, Project Muse)

            iii. Google Scholar and Library links

Section C: Maximizing your time (3:10-

What questions or concerns do you have about organizing your research? Here are some of my suggestions for enhancing your productivity:

i. Sign up for a library carrels:

ii. Use bibliographic managers like Zotero. The library offers workshops to get your started. They are well worth your time!

iii. Schedule a consultation with our Research Data Librarian to determine a useful file structure for your work.

iv. Explore productivity tools to help with writing and organization:

  1. Notetaking Apps
  2. Mind mapping
  3. Timed writing

Section D: Activities (Time Permitting!)

Group Activities:

In groups of 2 or 3 discuss the following:

  1. Describe how you have worked with secondary source databases in the past. Which databases did you find most useful? What challenges did you encounter?
  2. Briefly explore the US History Guide as a group. Which tabs might you return to for this project?

Individual Activities:

Choose one of the following resources:

How might these be useful for your work?

Do a search in American History and Life or ATLA, and then repeat the search in JSTOR. In each case select an article of interest. Which database was more fruitful? Why?

Struggling with finding the right search terms? Consult Learning Historical Research’s Searching page.  

The preferred citation mode for historians is typically the Chicago Manual of Style. To cite correctly in Chicago style consult the abbreviated Turabian guide, see these examples from Purdue’s OWL, or follow this link to the Chicago Manual of Style Online.

Research Tip: Most databases have a citation generator built in. They provide a good starting place, but you should always double check the citation since they can be prone to error.

Class Links