Introduction to U.S. History II

HIST 102; Prof. C. Meyer
Guide for finding sources at the George T. Potter Library

 

February 11, 2008

Susan B. Kurzmann

skurzman@ramapo.edu


 I. Library Homepage: http://library.ramapo.edu

Provides access to the catalog (OPAC), databases, interlibrary loan forms, etc.

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II. Find Books

Finding Primary and Secondary Sources:

  • Primary sources enable you to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period. The information and ideas were either created during the time period or created later by a participant or observer of the event being studied, for example:
    • Memoirs, diaries, letters, interviews, and other first-person accounts
    • Government documents
      • You might want to limit your search to Online material (listed under Quick Links) or to the Documents Without Shelves collection)
    • Newspaper articles
    • Paintings  

Searching the Catalog for primary source material:   

  • Use the Advanced Search option
    • The Boolean search terms are built in for your use:
      • AND: you are commanding the system to search for material that addresses both terms you've entered
      • OR: you are commanding the system to search for material on either of the search terms you have entered
      • NOT: you are commanding the system to search for material on the first term you have entered and to exclude any material on the second term you have entered
    • The catalog system will provide more focused results

    OR

  • Use the Command line/Boolean terms search option under Basic Search
 
  • Both these options allow you to enter additonal terms that will insure that your results will be primary source material, for example:
    • in Advanced Search, enter progressive era and sources
    • in Command line/Boolean terms option, enter "progressive era" and sources
    • Use words like correspondence, memoir, letter, interview, autobiographies, or diaries to locate source material
    • Click on the Subjects, etc. tab on the top of a record to see the subject headings associated with that particular item. These linked subject headings will take you to other material on the same subject matter.

Searching the catalog for secondary source material:

  • In Basic Search, use the keyword (default) setting for a basic search to find material, for example:
    • search for reconstruction and "african americans" to locate a broad range of materials the library has on these keywords
    • Your results will come up ranked by relevance;, and you may then re-sort them by title, author, publish [=publication] date, or publish date descending (the  most recent items will be listed first)
    • When you find an appropriate title, click on the Subjects, etc. tab located at the top of a catalog record to see which Library of Congress subject headings are discussed in that particular book/DVD/periodical

    OR

  • Search the catalog using Subject Browse if you know the relevant Library of Congress (LC) subject heading, for example:
    • Reconstruction, (U.S. history--1865-1877)
    • [name of state]--Politics and government
    • African Americans--History 1863-1867
    • United States--History
      • --1865-1898
      • --1901-1953
    • United States--Social life and customs--1865-1918
    • Art and society--United States--History--19th century
    • Women--United States--History
    • Cold War

      [See breakdown]

    OR

    • Go to Advanced Search
      • The Boolean search terms are built in for your use
        • AND: you are commanding the system to search for material that addresses both terms you've entered
        • OR: you are commanding the system to search for material on either of the search terms you have entered
        • NOT: you are commanding the system to search for material on the first term you have entered and to exclude any material on the second term you have entered
      • The catalog system will provide more focused results  

    Tips

 
    1. Our Catalog is used to find books, periodical titles (NOT articles), government documents, reserve items, music, and movies owned by the Library. You may limit a search by language, year(s) of publication, type of material, etc. This may take a few seconds to load.
    2. Start with broad searches. It is much easier to discard too much rather than start with too little.
    3. If you don't know the Subject Heading, use the Related Records tab located on the top of a catalog record to get to the headings. This will help you focus in on more relevant material.
    4. Can "virtually" browse the shelves by clicking on the call number in a record.

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 III. Reference Material

  • The reference stacks are located on the 3rd floor (this is also the library's entrance).
  • Useful reference materials for your projects:
    Dictionary of American Biography

    Ref E176 .D56

    American Social History Since 1860 Ref Z1361 .C6 B7
    Civil Rights in the United States Ref E184 .A1 C47 2000
    The Cold War Reference Guide: A General History and Annotated Chronology with Selected Biographies Ref D843 .S3365 1997
    Encyclopedia of Social Welfare History in North America

    Ref HV12 .E497 2005--Print edition

    (Online access)

    Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century Ref E169.1 .E626 2001
    Encyclopedia of the United States in the Twentieth  Century Ref E740.7 .E53 1996
    Encyclopedia of U.S. Foreign Relations Ref E183.7 .E53 1977
    Historical Dictionary of the Gilded Age Ref E661 .H59 2003
    History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-1968 Ref E183 .S28
    A Financial History of the United States Ref HG181 .M297 2002
    The Gilded Age: 1877-1896 Ref E 661 .Z99 D4
    Nineteenth Century Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature Ref Indexes (back of reference section; shelved alphabetically)
    St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture

    Ref E169.1 .S764--print edition

    (Online access)

    Timetables of American History Ref E174.5 .U75 1983
    Writings on American History Ref Z1236 .L331
    Primary Sources  
    American Decades Primary Sources Ref E169.1 .A471977 2004
    Annals of America (volumes 10-) Ref E173 .A793 2003
    Documents of American History Ref E173.D59 1988
    Documents of American Prejudice: An Anthology of Writings on Race from Thomas Jefferson to David Duke Ref E184.A1D64 1999
    Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States Ref J80 .A283
    The State of the Union Messages of the Presidents: 1790-1966 Ref J81 .C66
    Atlases
    Historical Atlas of the United States

    Ref Atlas Tables

    G 1201 .S1 H5 2003

    Mapping America's Past: A Historical Atlas

    Ref Atlas Tables

    G1201 .S1 C3 1996

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IV. Find Articles (Databases)

Some useful Databases for your projects:

JSTOR Complete Full-text of more than 500 academic journals
The Historical New York Times Full-text and full-image articles for the New York Times from 1851 through 2001

America: History & Life

***Select: United States & Canadian History

History of the United States and Canada from pre-history to the present. Includes some links to full-text articles in JSTOR. Note: click on the Primary Catalog link to see if the full text of the article is available through our collection.

Academic Search Premier

A multi-disciplinary database containing both full-text articles and citations.

Note: when only a citation is included, click on the Check availability at Ramapo link to see if the full text of the article is available in our collection.

*May limit search to "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals"

*See "Cited References" feature

See also:  
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts Citations, abstracts, and indexing of the international serials literature in political science and its complementary fields
LexisNexis

Covers top news, general news topics, news transcripts, foreign language news sources, and legal news.

*Completely full-text.

Ethnic NewsWatch

A comprehensive full text database of the newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press

 

Scholarly/Peer Reviewed/Refereed articles have been reviewed by a selected panel of experts in the discipline covered by that journal. Many of the databases allow you to limit your search to these articles.

Tips

  1. Use the Advanced Search page in a database. This will give you more control over your results
  2. Use Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) and quotation marks when running a search, for example:
  3. reconstruction and "post-civil war"

    "progressive era" or "gilded age"

  4. Always check your Spelling if the database results are zero
  5. Use the Subject Terms or Thesaurus link if available to find the best terms to use in a particular database

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V. Journal Finder and Interlibrary Loan

  • Journal Finder: locate the full text of articles in specific periodicals (journals, newspapers, magazines) to which we have access either in our print or microform collection or through a full-text database. Linked under Quick Links on the library's homepage. 
  • Interlibrary Loan: allows you to borrow a book or article that our library does not own. There is a link from the Journal Finder page and under Quick Links on the library's homepage.

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VI. Using Web Sources

Useful Websites:

      Websites covering various time periods in U.S. History:

 

Steven Mintz, University of Houston.

(See: Citing Us)

 
 

American Experience and many other PBS programs are good sources of information

       Websites for specific time periods in U.S. history:

King-Tisdell Cottage Foundation; Beach Institute; Savannah, Georgia

State of Alabama Legislature

Digital History: College of Education, University of Houston

Department of History, Tennessee Technological University (may also be accessed via H-Net: H-SHGAPE Internet Resources)

Robert Bannister, Swarthmore College

 
 
 
 

*For Web searching, consult Evaluating Websites to determine if the site is authoritative enough to use in your paper

Check the following Subject Resources linked under History:

     

Library of Congress (mentioned above)

See the following Subject Resources linked under Newspapers & Electronic Media

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VII. Bibliographies and Annotated Bibliographies

 

Need more help? Visit or call the Reference Desk: 201.684.7574

OR

Use QandANJ.org: a 24/7 virtual chat with a reference librarian

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