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History Resources: Getting Started

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

Where to Begin?

Tips for effective searching:

  • Determine the broad topic.
    • Write down the words you associate with that topic.  These will be keywords you can use to search for materials.
    • You may have to search and revise your search several times to find relevant materials.
  • 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):
    • Books or eBooks
    • Library periodical databases.
    • Internet sources such as national park sites or history museum resources
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Ask a librarian for help.

Additional Helpful Research Guides

Refer to these Library Research Guides for additional assistance: