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History Research Guide


This guide will assist you in locating published scholarship (books and journal articles) to read on a topic. Choose a topic that is interesting to you and which will work within your assignment's parameters.

First, read a good summary of the topic in a subject encyclopedia, like those listed below. Second, once you have a basic overview of the topic then search for published scholarship, using catalogs to find scholarly books, and databases to find scholarly journal articles.

Remember to evaluate the accuracy of your resources, and think critically about their content and arguments. When in doubt, check with your History instructor.

Reference Essays (from Encyclopedias & Dictionaries)

Subject encyclopedias and other reference guides can provide good background information on a topic. Many reference books are in printed format, while others are available in electronic resource collections such as:

Gale eBooks (formerly Gale Virtual Reference Library)

Oxford Reference

Scholarly Books

Search for printed and electronic scholarly books at QC and other CUNY libraries.
Search for scholarly books in the national catalog for the United States and Canada. Includes holdings from libraries in other parts of the world, primarily European or English-speaking.

Data & Statistics

Scholarly Journal Articles (Search Databases)

Newspaper Articles (Search Databases)

Research Librarian

James Mellone's picture
James Mellone
Prof. James Tasato Mellone
Historical, Cultural, and Social Sciences Librarian
Rosenthal Library 326

Primary Sources

Primary sources are documents that date from the time period being studied, immediate to the events under investigation. These can include letters, diaries, business records, government papers, laws, treaties, etc. The usual subheading for primary sources in library catalogs is “sources”. Sample subject headings include:

United States -- History -- 1865-1898 -- Sources

New York (State) -- History -- Sources

New York, N. Y. -- History -- Sources

Maps & Photographs

To find published books of photographs, use a library catalog, such as the CUNY Catalog. Perform keywords searches to combine a geographic place with a word that designates a photograph. For example, any of the following searches will retrieve books that are books of photographs:

Brooklyn and photographs

Queens and "pictorial works"

For a place like New York city, which technically is designated "New York, N. Y." it can be more difficult to narrow a search because the phrase "New York" can appear in other contexts, not just "New York" as a geographic place to be researched. So, use the 'Keyword in Title' search to make sure the words are only searched in the Titles of materials:

"New York" and photographs

Primary Source Collections at QC