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Research Guides

HSTAA 110: History of American Citizenship: Secondary Sources: Historians' Interpretations & Analyses

  Image: sample book covers (American Hippies, The Contest, The Hippies)

Using UW Libraries Search to Find Books

 

Advanced Search | FAQ | Known Issues

  • By Topic - Type in the keywords that broadly describe your topic. For example: immigration seattle history. On the results screen use the "Resource Type" options on the left toolbar to limit your results to books. This will eliminate any articles that were found.
     
  • By Title - search for a specific book by title. Type in the first few words of the book title in quotations.  For example: "magic lands western". if you don't see the book on your list of results then use the "Resource Type" options on the left toolbar to limit your results to books. This will eliminate any book reviews that were found.
     
  • By Author - search for books written by a specific author. Type in the last name followed by the first name of the author in quotations. For example: "findlay john". On the results screen use the "Resource Type" options on the left toolbar to limit your results to books. This will eliminate any book reviews and articles that were found.

Find Articles on American History

America History & Life is the best database to use when looking for academic journal articles in the field of American history.

Search America History & Life
 

 

Link your search terms using the AND connector. For example: women and work and world war. On the search results screen, use the options on the left toolbar to narrow your search results. To find the fulltext of the article (if not provided directly in the database), click on the "Check for Full Text" button and work your way through the screens. Not all articles will be online, some may only be in print, others may not be available at the UW. Articles from journals which the UW does not own can be requested via Interlibrary loan.

Scholarly Books & Journals as Research Resources

The raison d'être of historians is to explore the past and attempt to describe, explain, interpret and analyze it. Historians use evidence from the past (primary sources) to support their interpretations which are most often published in the form of books and journal articles (secondary sources). So why should you use secondary sources?

Strengths

  • Written by expert scholars. Before publication academic books and articles are vetted by other scholars in a process known as peer review.
  • Peer review ensures that scholarly books and articles are more reliable and credible than other types of publications.
  • Provide historical/broader/in depth context and analysis of a topic.
  • Scholarly articles and books are based on evidence (primary sources) that are cited in the footnotes and bibliography. They are often a quick way to identify important evidence that you too may wish to use in your research paper. You can use this evidence and present your own interpretation.
 

Keep in mind

  • Expert scholars are likely to use specialized terminology and theory in their analyses making scholarly articles and books sometimes difficult to understand.
  • There are fewer scholarly sources written about smaller cities than larger or more historical significant places.

How to Read Scholarly Books & Articles

Scholarly articles and books have a purpose -- an argument (also called a thesis) that they are attempting to make about an issue and present evidence to support this argument. As you read a scholarly article first check to see if there is an abstract, a brief overview of the article. This will give you an idea if the article will be relevant for your research. Then look for the author's argument. Ask yourself, does the author adequately support their argument with evidence.

For more information on reading a scholarly article see: Analyzing Scholarly ArticlesHow to Read an Academic Article & How to Read a Secondary Source.