History 91

Research Strategies
& Tools / Fall 2019


Sarah Elichko

Social Sciences Librarian

Class today:

Use a finding aid + work with archival materials

Compare research tools

Learn how to search more intentionally

Identify next steps for your research

Finding Primary Sources

Key resource: History 91 Research Guide


Getting Started

Finding Primary Sources

Specific Resources:

ArchiveGrid  (Boxes/linear feet)

Social Networks in Archival Context


Archives in a Box


Archives in a Box

How could you find other issues
of this magazine?

Print or Microfilm, via TriCo Libraries

>> Check Tripod


Digital Version, via TriCo Libraries

>> Check Tripod
>> Also try Research Guides (databases)


Print or Microfilm, from other libraries

>> Check Worldcat


Digital Version, online

>> Search Google, DuckDuckGo

Look for an issue from 2 years later

Searching The Guardian

(+ other historical newspapers)

Choose keywords that allow for some variation.

Narrow down your results to the relevant years.

Look at a couple of the articles. What words are used? These might make good keywords.

Results for:  london AND (tube OR underground)
         • All years   = 111,693 results
         • 1917-1918 = 1,539 results

Example:  london AND (tube OR underground)

Complexities of searching for historical sources...

"If, for example, I wanted to find out more about the island from which [Sir Walter] Raleigh penned his letter, what name should I keyword search? Saint Christopher, St. Christopher, Saint Christophe, St. Kitts, or San Christoval?"

Finding information on Providence Island in the AGI [Archivo General de Indias, in Sevilla] is impossible unless one knows that the Spanish referred to it as Santa Catalina."

• Multiple names +    

• Changes over time
• Varying spellings,


Casey Schmitt, Love Letters and the Digital Turn (The Junto)

Accessing Sources
(when you have a citation)

Is it available immediately?
• Check Tripod (in a book or ebook? a journal or newspaper?)
• Look through Research Guides (library databases + subscriptions)

• Search online (open resources, e.g. digital exhibits from museums)


Could it be delivered to you?
• Published: EZBorrow, Interlibrary Loan, Article Delivery
• Unique item: scanned, photographed, copied, reprinted


Could you go to it?
• Document/object:  visit the archive, library, museum
• Online, but behind a paywall: visit library w/ subscription

        + favorable access policy for e-resources (e.g. Temple)

Finding Secondary Sources

Key resource: History 91 Research Guide


Getting Started > Background Reading

Find Scholarly Books & Articles

Navigating historical scholarship

Key research tools:

JSTOR, America History & Life, Historical Abstracts

Tripod, Worldcat

Organizing your research
(strategies + tools for historians)

• Document your process

• Save consistently

• Annotate sources

Three ways to stay organized
while doing research: 

{ ideas, searches, sources }

{ done & to-do }

{ while you still remember }

Document Your Process

As you work, keep a research log.

- Today's date

- What did you do today?
- What are your next steps? (however tentative)

{ Tools }
• Some options: Google docs, Simplenote, Evernote, Notion, Word doc + Dropbox

• Need to reconstruct?  Try your browser history, search history


Save Consistently

Be predictable
Decide on and stick to a system that is easy and reliable.

Label everything 
Include enough information so you can recognize sources at a glance.  (even a few weeks later)

{ Tools }
• Zotero - bit.ly/zotero-setup

       -  One place to save sources + citations

       -  Sort, categorize, tag sources
       -  Generates formatted citations


Annotate Sources

Source notes
Why does this document seem (potentially) relevant?

Write it down now, while you still remember.

Categorize sources

Sort your potential sources by topic, potential use, etc.

{ Tools }
• Zotero -- tags, folders  ("collections")

• Coggle -- create groups of sources, authors


Next steps:

• Talk with Sarah about your project.

• Use the Research Guide for History 091


History 91

By Swarthmore Reference

History 91

History 091 / Fall 2019 / SLE

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