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Research Guides


  • Check our hours before visiting especially if you plan on using Special Collections.
  • Parking can be expensive -- never visit on a Husky football day.
  • The UW is big. Check out the campus map.
  • Guest computers are limited.  Bring a laptop if you have one and ask for guest wifi access from an Info Desk.
  • Bring a flash drive so you can download articles.
  • You will need to buy a DawgPrints card to print.  
  • Ask for help at any Info or Reference desk.  Staff there can get you started on your research and answer questions.

Getting the Most Out of Your UW Libraries Visit

Make the most of your visit to the the UW Libraries by first:

  1. Choose a research topic that has sufficient primary sources. Look at the handout Breaking Barriers in History: Sample Topics. These topics have been chosen because the UW Libraries has sufficient primary sources. Some practical tips:
    • Choose an event or topic that occurred in the 20th or 19th centuries.
    • Choose an event or topic that takes place in the United States.
    • Choose an event or topic that takes place in a country where English is one of the primary languages.
    • Choose an event that took place more than 20 years ago.
  2. Use the resources at your school and local public library. Seattle Public, King County Public Library System and other public libraries are great places to begin  your research.
  3. Talk to your school librarian. School librarians can recommend books, help you develop a research plan and come up with a list of possible search terms you can use to find sources.
  4. Have a well-thought out topic. Do some preliminary reading on the topic so you have a good grasp of the historical context and major issues related to your topic. Encyclopedias are good sources to find this background information. 
    Be sure to know:
    1. Your topic's date range or dates of specific events
    2. Key people and organizations related to your topic
    3. The geographic locale of your topic
  5. Search for books related to your research before you visit. Use UW Libraries Search to find books at the UW Libraries.  Be sure to note down the title, location and call number of books that you need. See Books@UW tab for more information. 
  6. See if there is a History Day Topic Guide for your subject. The Guides list recommended books, primary sources, web sites and other sources on popular topics.
  7. Scan the checklist that fits the century of your topic. The checklist lists the major digitized primary source collections available at the UW Libraries for the 17th & 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. 
  8. Need historic photographs and other material on Pacific Northwest history? Use our Digital Collections from home.
  9. Identify which History research guide best fits your topic. Each guide includes links to freely available collections of primary sources plus links to UW-only databases (designated with the lock icon) that you can use while on campus.