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HIST 72/172: The Civil War Era (Gudgeirsson)

An online research guide designed to help students in Hist 172 find resources for their research paper

Use OSCAR to find books


OSCAR, the Library's Catalog

OSCAR is the Library's catalog and it tells you the books the SCU Library owns or subscribes to (physical and virtual), in addition to many other material types. You can use it to find books on your topic by doing a keyword search, or for known titles and authors.

advanced search using two concepts and limited to the main stacks location

Finding the Book

This book is in the main stacks in the lower level of the library:

a book and its location and call number

What is a call number? What does E99.C5 J615 2003 mean?

The call number is the book's address on the shelf, and every part of it indicates something about the subject matter of the book. Approach it alphanumerically: first find the E section among the book shelves, then the 99 section under E, then the C section under 99, then the 5 section under C... and on and on.

Learn More: Library of Congress Call Number System


Search for ebooks easily

Use the Streaming Videos/Ebooks tab on the library's website to search only ebooks.

Open Access Ebook Platforms

Use any of the below to search for digitized books about historical topics (secondary sources) or created during a historical time period (primary sources).

Use basic keywords to search rather than complex phrases or questions.

Sample Searches

Books can be used as primary or secondary sources, according to their publication date and the topic of your research.

Searching for them can be challenging because the tools you use, catalogs, do not work like Google! Take the tips given below very seriously!

OSCAR is the online catalog for Santa Clara University. It includes all the books in our collection as well as other materials such as videos and government documents. I would recommend the general construction of an Advanced Search illustrated below for looking for sources on the Civil War.

Note details like the use of quotation marks to identify phrases. And, the asterisk picks up variable word endings, e.g. nurses and nursing. Both of these are critical details that can make or break a search in these sophisticated databases. Look at the examples below carefully. They represent several different types of searches for secondary and primary source.

General Topical Searches

If you wanted books on nurses/nursing during the Civil War:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Specifying Subject when searching only works when you know that the term is an official Subject term (Yes! It's like a language!).

For example, this would be a logical search:

However, you would get zero results. In that case, you would change it to this:

Don't specify where the phrase "black soldiers" shows up. Then, look for a book that is clearly focused on "black soldiers" and scan the listed Subject terms and see how the idea of "black soldiers" appears in the Subjects. Look at this book for an example: 

You see that the phrase

"African American soldiers" is used instead of "black soldiers".

Think of it like a treasure hunt .... you have to discover what terms work best.

A Few Specific Types of Primary Sources

Do you notice another interesting Subject in the Subject list above? A term that would be useful when looking for a primary source? What is Correspondence?

Another useful Subject for primary sources is the very odd term "Personal narratives".  And, don't forget about Diaries! Or Sources!This search retrieves some very interesting collections of primary sources related to the Civil War:

Regimental Histories

We have a lot of these, and you can find one using this pattern for your search:

Searching for Books Beyond SCU

Two other library catalogs you can search using the same general strategies are these:

LINK+ is a catalog for of books from over 50 libraries in California, both academic and public.  It is very easy to request books from LINK+ and they come within a few days.

WorldCat includes books and other materials from academic, public, special, and national libraries around the world. If you find something here you like, look it up in OSCAR and LINK+. If you do not find it in either of those catalogs, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan.