Skip to main content

History Resources: Getting Started

A basic guide to locating information about History in the TMCC Library.

Where to Begin?

Procedure for effective searching:

  • Determine the broad topic.
    • Write down the words you associate with that topic.  These will be Keywords.
    • You may discover that there are search terms (keywords or key phrases) that work better than this term in finding information. 
    • You have to do preliminary research to do effective research.
  • Identify related topics associated with the topic by browsing a variety of sources (related topics will help to generate more keywords to use to narrow the search, that is, to make the search results more specific):
    • Internet.
    • Books.
    • Electronic books.
    • Library reference databases.
    • Library periodical databases.
  • Turn your topics into effective search terms.
    • Decide if your search term is a commonly used phrase, e.g., “american history,” or two separate ideas, e.g., “united states” and “history.” 
    • Combine terms.  Why combine terms?
      • Combining terms is a step in Boolean algebra.  See the Boolean Machine for visual examples of Boolean searches.
      • Some databases supply the AND for you.  Read search suggestions or HELP before searching a database.
      • Or combine phrases,using the command AND, e.g., “united states” AND “civil war."
        • Combine terms to reduce the number of retrieved items.
        • Combine terms to make the search more relevant.
      • Combine again, if needed, e.g., "united states" AND "civil war" AND "gettysburg."
    • Keep track of which terms you have used and whether they were successful.
      • Write the search terms down.
  • Identify credible sources, that is, reliable sources. 
    • See our links on evaluating the credibility of web sites for more information.
    • Library databases are purchased because they provide a greater likelihood of finding credible sources than an open search on the World Wide Web.
  • Browse results of your search at each stage to determine if you have found relevant sources.  Retrieved items do not have to be perfect!  You can use relevant portions.
  • Be sure to write down which documents you have used, if you have not made a print out or obtained a copy.
  • If necessary, modify your search term(s) and try again.
  • Ask the librarian for help.

History in Images

Additional Helpful Research Guides

Refer to these Library Research Guides for additional assistance:

Librarian

Neil Siegel
Contact:
775-674-7608
Subjects:History