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HIST 27/127: Public and Digital History (Gudgeirsson)


Let's do some history!

In this research session, you will learn how to identify and search for scholarly secondary sources as well as primary sources pertinent to your topic.

Reach out to your librarians listed at the bottom of this page for research help. We're here to support you!

What Is Historical Research?

Historical research does not consist in the mere collection of 'facts', but rather in the interrelationship between factual evidence and the inter­pretation of this evidence by historians...

There is no standard text on history, nor is there any standard list of historical facts or a single inter­pretation of many historical events. However, there are historical events where a genuine consensus of opinion among historians does in fact exist.

McDowell, Bill. Historical Research : A Guide, Taylor & Francis Group, 2002, pp. 3-4. (Ebook available through SCU Library)

Developing Search Strategies

Searching for Secondary Sources

Largely you need to search OSCAR and history databases through SCU library for secondary sources.

When searching, start with basic keywords—one or two might be enough depending on where you are searching. If you are searching a source that deals directly with history, your search terms will be different than a large, multidisciplinary database.

(cherokee or "native american" or "american indian") and civil war

Only two concepts

This is why it is very important to pick a good database to search from the start.

In historical research, words we used today may not be the words used to originally describe the event or thing during the original time period.

If you're not finding anything, it may be because you're just using different words than they used back then. Talk with your librarian about different search strategies.

Searching for Primary Sources

Sometimes you can search for primary sources, and sometimes you have to pick a repository to browse, especially when the language used during your historical time period may be different from the language we use now. Again, this is why it is important to pick a good collection or repository from the beginning. When selecting a repository or digital collection, think larger than your topic, and think what collection would contain useful information for you.



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Get Research Help

Ask a Librarian

The best way to get research help this quarter is to use the Library's Ask A Librarian service. You have many options there: live chat 24/7, email, browse FAQs, instructions for dropping in to the Help Desk in person.

If you know your topic concerns the history of Santa Clara University or the surrounding area, you can directly email to see if Archives & Special Collections has primary source materials to support your topic.

Archives & Special Collections Librarian

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Monica Keane
Norman F. Martin Reading Room
Archives & Special Collections
Library and Learning Commons, 3rd floor