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Historical Research: Home

Starting points for Historical Research Methodology

Introduction

To begin historical research, you will need to select a topic of interest to you and that you can suggest a new solution, insight, or interpretation. Your research may contradict, correct, or add to knowledge about your subject. By using a combination of primary and secondary sources, you will study interpretations, facts, and insights to write your paper and reach your conclusion.

Some things to keep in mind:

Primary sources may be the most difficult type of information to find. Be sure you have access to enough to complete your research.  It will be to your benefit to check resources available to you in Watson Library. Be sure to check what is available in the Cammie G. Henry Research Center. A really smart idea is to contact the Head of Archives who can direct you to resources which are appropriate to your area of interest. Those of you who choose to do non-American history may have the most difficulty locating primary sources.

Reference Books and EBooks

Before beginning historical research in any area, be sure you know what has already been done in that field. Nothing is more embarrassing than finding that your "original" conclusions have been published.  In order to know what has already been done, start with basic sources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, textbooks, monographs, and journal databases.

To specifically locate reference sources, you may want to begin with the Gale Virtual Reference Library which can be accessed as a database or via the online catalog.

Below is a representative list, not a complete bibliography of resources available. Also, most of the titles are EBooks that you can access through the library online catalog and read on your computer.

Below are some representative titles:

Journals and Databases

If you find a particular article and need to find the journal online, go to the library webpage and click on NSUJournal List on the right side menu on the webpage.  This will take you to a search engine which will help you locate journals by title. If the journal is available online, you will see the year and after clicking on the year, you will see the volume,issue, and date which will take you to the table of contents to locate the specific article. If the article is not available online, you can request it through interlibrary loan.

To find articles by subject, author, title, etc. go to the library webpage and click on databases on the right hand menu. You can search by database title by clicking on Database Directory if you know which database to use, otherwise you can also see all the history databases by selecting History.

Especially useful databases:

Academic Search Complete

History Reference Center

JSTOR

Military and Government Collection

Project Muse

World History Collection

An unique resource is WorldCat listed at the bottom of the history resources. This is a catalog of books, internet resources, audio-visual items, serials, sounds, articles, maps, and computer items. It also lists archival resources. Items that are available in Watson Library are highlighted in the citation. WorldCat will also indicate how many libraries and which ones contain the item. This is useful to find citations for books you may wish to order via interlibrary loan.

 

Primary Sources

Primary sources can be located online through places such as

Louisiana Digital Library http://louisdl.louislibraries.org

American Memory (Library of Congress) http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html

National Archives http://www.archives.gov

National Archives United Kingdom http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Watson Library also has purchased online newspapers and document collections that can be found under History databases:

   African American Historical Serials Collection

   African American Newspapers 1827-1998

   America's Historical Newspapers: Louisiana 1837-1922

   American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodical Collection Series 5: 1866-1877

   Civil War Primary Documents  

   European Views of the Americas: 1493-1750

   History E-Books:  Defining Documents in American History

Interlibrary Loan

To access books and articles that are not available in the library or online through the ebooks or databases, you may use interlibrary loan. This is a free service and you can sign up using the link on the right side menu on the library webpage. You must know the bibliographic information for the book or journal article that you need. Books are loaned from other libraries and may come via courier or mail. This may be three to fourteen days. Books must be returned to the lending library on time or else you must pay a fine. If you need an item longer than the loan period, please request a renewal through the online interlibrary loan system. It is up to the lending library to grant this. If you cannot come to campus to retrieve books, we recommend you do the interlibrary loan through your nearest public library.

Journal articles may come online or photocopied. Often if onlline, you may received the article through your email in 24-48 hours. Photocopies will take longer since they will come through the mail. These do not need to be returned.

If you have any questions about signing up for or using interlibrary loan, please contact a reference librarian.

Final Thoughts

If you need assistance in locating historical information, please contact a reference librarian to set up a research consultation. We can do these face-to-face, email, or phone.

The librarian with a background in history is

Abbie Landry, Director of Libraries

318-357-4403

Landry@nsula.edu