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Research Guides

 article image book cover: Seattle's Waterfront

Start Here for Books


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UW Libraries Search is your starting point for finding books at the UW Libraries. For local topics you will also find reports written by community organizations and by governments. In addition UW Libraries Search also includes citations to articles (often linked to fulltext). Use the options on the "Refine My Results" toolbar on the left of your search results screen. You can use these refinements to filter your results to books, by language, by library location, etc. 

  • To search for books by keywords just enter your terms into the search box -- for example: "international district" seattle 

  • To search for a book by title use quotations around the first few words of the book -- for example: "claiming the oriental gateway"

  • To search for a book by author type in the surname followed by the first name in quotes -- for example: "taylor quintard"

Local City Publications

You can also use UW Libraries Search to find reports published by the City of Seattle and other local organizations. For example a 1974 study, Renovating decaying urban areas : an analysis of Seattle's Pioneer Square Historical district.

Start Here for Articles

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


America History & Life



Link your search terms using the AND connector. For example: seattle and urban renewal. 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." Not all articles will be online, some may only be in print, others may not be available at the UW (you can request a pdf of these).


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?


  • 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. For example, if you are researching Seattle's International District, you may want to use a scholarly source to get information on how our the ID compares with similar neighborhoods in other cities. 
  • 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 local Seattle areas and topics.

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.