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HIS300/500 (Fournier/Legg)   Tags: american_history, european_history, history  

Guide created to address the research needs of HIS300 and HIS500 by WCU Library Services.
Last Updated: Dec 5, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Reference Desk:

Phone: 610-436-2453


Mon- Thurs 8:30 am-10:00 pm

Friday         8:30 am-5:00 pm

Saturday     12:00 pm-5:00 pm

Sunday       12:00 pm-10:00 pm

Interlibrary Loan

Hint: Use EZ Borrow for book requests, and use ILLiad for article requests.  Read the descriptions on the library's ILL page (see link below) for more detailed information about these two services.

Finding Articles

Use these online databases to search for articles pertaining to your topic.  These can be accessed from both on and off campus.

Finding Primary Sources

Primary materials are available in many different places. The library has database subscriptions to primary source materials including newspapers, diaries, letters, etc.  These databases are intermingled with the other history focused databases on the history page.  However, you might also find these primary sources within your secondary sources, so make sure to look at citations and images. Also many libraries and other organizations such as historical societies are placing digitized images of archival (primary source) materials online.  Even West Chester University has some digitized primary source materials available online. 

Keep in mind when searching for primary sources that the language used at the time might be different than what is used today.

For example, keep in mind that the American Civil War had many different names. Use multiple terms and do different searches accordingly. Ex: Civil War, War of Northern Aggression, War between the states, War of Rebellion, War for Southern Independence, Mr. Lincoln’s War,

See the listing below for primary sources available through West Chester and the World Wide Web:

Reference Collections

Reference works, such as encyclopedias and dictionaries, are a great place to start to narrow or focus your topic or area of interest.  These sources can also point you to other useful resources, so make sure to look closely at the citations and bibliographies.  Below is a list of available online reference works; others will also be available in the library.

Finding Books

Use the following links to find books, bibliographies, films, journal holdings information, etc.

  • PILOT Library Catalog
    WCU's Library Catalog. Includes more than just books! You can use PILOT to find books, journals, reference materials, and primary source materials physically and digitally available in the library.
  • WorldCat (Online Version)
    This version of WorldCat can be used from any location with internet access but it will not show which books are owned by West Chester.
  • WorldCat (On-Campus Only)  
    Please EXIT after completing your research since the subscription provides a limited number of simultaneous users.
  • Google Books
    Google Books is a great place to look for books found here at WCU or elsewhere. You can usually preview and search the books. It also provides a "Get this Book" bar, which has a link called "Find in a Library." Put WCU's zip code (19383) here to see if we have it here.

Subject Guide

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Tara Wink
Contact Info
FHG Library Room: 615
Phone: 610-436-3456
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Tips and Tricks

Boolean Operators and Wildcards

     AND – means you want both terms in your results; tends to narrow results’ list

         Ex: Civil War AND Nurse

     OR – means you want one or the other terms in your results – use with synonyms; tends to broaden results’ list

         Ex: Civil War OR War of Northern Aggression OR War Between the States

     NOT – use when you are getting a reoccurring term that you are not interested in

         Ex: Nurse NOT women

? or * -- used to expand your results without having to type in multiple words; different databases use these differently.  The library catalog uses the ? but some databases use the *.  Play around with them to see how your results change.

        Ex: wom?n – will return results for woman and women 

        Ex: nurs* – will return results for nurse, nurses, and nursing

 “quotes” – use to search for a phrase

        Ex: “Civil War”



Subject Headings or Subjects

    Subject headings are created by librarians to describe exactly what the materials are about.  They connect materials with similar topics or themes together.  They are called different things depending on the catalog or database but most have them.  Click on them to find more materials on your topic.


With historical research keep in mind that terms change over time.  Change your search terms accordingly. 

West Chester University | Library Services | 25 West Rosedale Avenue | West Chester, Pennsylvania 19383 | 610-430-4400


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