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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

Where are the books?

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

There are three catalogs you can use to identify books on your topic:

OSCAR is the online catalog for Santa Clara University. It includes all the books, print and electronic, in our collection as well as other materials such as videos, periodicals (not ARTICLES in them!) , and government documents. 

LINK+ is a catalog for more than 50 libraries (mostly public, but there are a few academic libraries) in California and Nevada. You can easily request books from LINK+ and get them in a few days.

WorldCat includes books and other materials from academic, public, special, and national libraries around the world. Materials you identify here can be requested through Interlibrary Loan. Getting books this way, though, is going to take time ... at a minimum, a week.

Online Book Collections

There are several large electronic book projects that can help you identify books and, sometimes, actually access the fulltext in electronic form (for many public domain, pre-1925, books). A few big ones are:

ACLS Humanities E-Book Project, a collection of 2,800 full-text titles offered by the ACLS in collaboration with twenty learned societies, nearly 100 contributing publishers, and librarians at the University of Michigan’s Scholarly Publishing Office. 

Google Books

Project Gutenberg Free eBook Library

Hathi Trust

Internet Archive

How to search for books on the Civil War

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:

https://sculib.scu.edu/record=b3217135 

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.