HIST 6303 (Dr. Vizzini): Historical Methods

This guide should help you find primary and secondary sources for your research paper which are available in the Library or on the World Wide Web. The list is not comprehensive so you'll need to use this as a starting point and ferret out other sources as well. If you have questions, stop by the Reference, Periodicals/Special Collections, or Government Documents Desks for assistance or call the Reference Desk at 651-2215. For additional help, contact Mary Jarvis (x2212) or Steve Ely (x2231) and make an appointment.

Reference Sources

Reference books are one of the best places to start your research. Finding background information on a topic can help you prepare to search the library's online catalog and other resources. The Reference Collection houses basic information sources like dictionaries, encyclopedias, bibliographies, chronologies, and research guides. A selection of Reference books which you may find useful are listed below. Be sure to check Cornette Library's online catalog or ask a Reference Librarian to find more.

General Guides to Research

The Creative Guide to Research
ZA 3075 .R69 2000 Ref.
A guide to finding information both in print and available through the World Wide Web.
Student Guide to Research in the Digital Age : How to Locate and Evaluate Information Sources
ZA 3075 .S74 2006 Ref.
Step-by-step introduction to research process, critical evaluation, and specific information sources. Includes consideration of web content from as recently as 2006. A very well-presented blend of detail and introductory overview.
Dictionary of Concepts in History
D13 .R49 1986 Ref.
Identification and discussion "of some of the key concepts of contemporary historical analysis."
The American Historical Association Guide to Historical Literature
Z 6201 .A55 1995 Ref.
A two volume annotated bibliography "of the finest and most useful books and articles available in every field of historical scholarship."

Diplomatic History and Latin America

Guide to the Diplomatic History of the United States, 1775-1921
by Samuel Flagg Bemis and Grace Gardner Griffin
Z 6465 .U5 B4 Ref.
LC 1.2:D 62 US Documents - Documents Shelves
A chronological guide to published materials about the diplomatic history of the United States from 1775-1921. Published in 1935.
Guide to American Foreign Relations since 1700
Z 6465. U5 G84 1983 Ref.
Edited by Richard Dean Burns and published by The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), this is the much modified and updated successor to Bemis and Griffin.
American Foreign Relations since 1600 : A Guide to the Literature. Second edition.
Z 6465 .U5 G84 2003
This SHAFR publication supersedes their 1983 work by Burns, just as that superseded Bemis and Gardner. This one ought to be the first resort, though the earlier titles also have their value.
Foreign Affairs Bibliography
Z6463.F73 Ref.
Focused coverage of foreign affairs materials published during very specific time periods. Produced by the Council on Foreign Relations and organized first by geographical areas and then by subtopics. Editions exist for 1919-1932, 1932-1942, 1952-1962, and 1962-1972. Two editions are also on the Loan Shelves.
U.S. Foreign Relations : A Guide to Information Sources.
Z 6465 .U5 P52 Ref.
Volume 6 in the American Government and History Information Guide Series.
This 1980 work offers a detailed bibliography on many different aspects of the practice and practitioners of U.S. foreign relations, including primary sources as well as secondary sources.
Handbook of Latin American Studies
The Handbook is a bibliography on Latin America consisting of works selected and annotated by scholars.
A Bibliography of United States Latin American Relations Since 1810.
Z 1609 .R4 T7 Ref.
Published in 1968 and therefore lacking coverage of the most recent forty years, this volume nevertheless has great value from the eleven thousand published references from the previous 158 years.
Supplement to A Bibliography of United States Latin American Relations Since 1810.
Z 1609 .R4 T7 Suppl. Ref.
This supplement was published in 1979 and thereby covers the gap noted above by 11 years.

Subject Encyclopedias

Subject encyclopedias provide in-depth, scholarly articles, which focus on a specific subject or discipline. The articles often refer to the main sources for further research on the subject and include bibliographies. Below are some examples of subject encyclopedias. Search Cornette Library's online catalog by subject or country and limit your search to the Reference Dept. to find the most appropriate encyclopedia in you subject area.

Encyclopedia of the Cold War
D843 .A668 1994 Ref.
A one-volume reference work with informative and interesting articles on the events, people, organizations, and concepts that defined the Cold War. Each includes a short bibliography.
Encyclopedia of American History
E174.5 .E52 1982 Ref.
A one volume listing of "the essential historical facts about American life and institutions." A chronological and a topical arrangement.
Dictionary of American History
E174 D52 2003 Ref.
Ten volumes of detailed, signed, sourced articles about all sorts of important elements of American history. As one example, the article on "Latin America, Relations with" is four pages long with an information-packed map and a bibliography of eleven sources.
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Latin America and the Caribbean
F1406 .C36 1985 Ref.
One volume divided up into broad sections on The Economy, The Peoples, History, Politics and Society, and Culture. The history section is then broken down by eras and nations.
Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations
G63 .W67 2004 Ref.
A multi-volume set of summaries and backgrounds to countries of the world. Each country has further bibliographic information.


Biographical resources can help you identify the author or subject of primary resources as well as place him/her in context.

American National Biography
E176 .D565 1999 Ref.
Biographical essays of Americans "whose significant actions occurred during his or her residence in the United States or whose life or career directly influenced the course of American history."



Cornette Library's Online Catalog
Includes books, government documents, videos, journals, etc. available throughout the Library. Suggested searches include:
  • a keyword search for your subject, such as Mayan art
  • the general LC subject heading United States--Foreign relations or Germany (West)--Defenses
  • the LC subject heading for a specific time and place such as World politics--1945-1955

To determine the most appropriate subject headings for your search, refer to the red Library of Congress Subject Headings near the Reference computers in the Library or search the online Library of Congress Authorities Catalog.

An online catalog for libraries around the world. You'll find books in Cornette Library's collection listed along with many more in other libraries. Search by keyword or browse by subject heading. You may request those books which are not available in the Cornette Library through Interlibrary Loan. Be sure to submit your requests at least two weeks before you will need them.
*Helpful Searching Tip*
Consider sometimes truncating terms with the applicable symbol. For instance, revolution? in our catalog will also find records with "revolutionary" and "revolutions." In WorldCat, the same search would use revolution*.


Finding Primary Sources

Primary Sources are first-person accounts or original artifacts or documents created, generally when an event happened, by participants or contemporaneous witnesses. These may include diaries, journals, speeches (audio or transcripts), letters, interviews, some newspaper and magazine articles, photographs and original videos, political cartoons, poster, and some government publications such official records and legislation. Also of use, though created after the event, are oral histories, autobiographies, and memoirs.

One essential way of finding primary sources is to follow the bibliographies and notes in relevant secondary sources.

Another helpful tactic is to search in catalogs and databases for keywords and subject keywords reflecting the form of the item. For instance, important Subject Heading form subdivisions for this include:

Similarly, these terms, others mentioned above, and synonyms for them may appear elsewhere on a catalog record and therefore be good to search for as general keywords. Two especially good choices would be truncation searches for variations of facsimile or documents. For more about truncation searching, see the catalog section of our guide to finding primary sources in Cornette Library.

Here are just a few of the relevant primary source documents as you´ll find in our catalog :

Remember, these make up just a small sample of the primary documents to be found in our catalog

Digitized Primary Sources

JFK's Foreign Affairs and International Crises, 1961-1963
Digitized documents from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library from the years 1958 to 1964. 1073 documents in 64,126 page images. Provides insights into the Bay of Pigs, Berlin, Cuba, American efforts to support Third World countries, balance of payments and foreign trade, Alliance for Progress and relations with Latin America, nuclear weapons and testing, NATO and the Multilateral Force in Europe, Southeast Asia and regional security, foreign aid and military assistance, the international space race, as President Kennedy's views on foreign affairs, U.S. leadership of the "West," and various worldwide crises.


Journal & Magazine Articles

You may have found a citation from one of the print reference sources listed above, some other bibliography or print resource, or some other source where you don't see the SFX logo in a set of database search results. In that case, to find the full-text of an article when you only have the citation, browse our list of online journals and search Cornette Library's online catalog by journal title to determine if the issue you need is available in the library's Periodicals collection.

Journals are shelved alphabetically by title in the bound, microfilm, microfiche, or current periodicals areas on the Library's second floor. If the Library does not have the journal issue you need, you can request the article through Interlibrary Loan.

Cornette Library also provides access to a number of online resources for finding journal articles. Some provide the full text of articles, while others may give only the citation and in some cases an abstract or short summary of the article. Some of these resources are general in nature, covering many subject areas. Others focus on particular subject areas or disciplines. When you find articles, evaluate them to make sure you are getting valid information. If you need assistance with searching the resources listed below, ask at the Reference Desk (first floor) or the Periodicals Desk (second floor). You may also call the Reference Desk at 651-2215 during the hours Cornette Library is open or use our Ask a Librarian service.

All of our online resources are available from off-campus as well as in the library. You will be asked to login: use your Buff Advisor username (for example, js123456) and your Buff Advisor password (for example, buffaloes).

History Resources

America: History and Life
Citation database covering the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present. Indexes 1,700 journals, to make this the most comprehensive index available for U.S. and Canadian history.
Historical Abstracts
Citation database covering the history of the world excluding the United States and Canada. Citations are from over 1800 journals in 50 languages with emphasis on English titles worldwide.

General Resources: Full Text

Complete coverage of full text and images of over 375 journals, except the most current two to five years. Covers many subjects, so it may be helpful to narrow the search by discipline.
Academic Search Complete
Contains abstracts and citations for a broad range of topics, with substantial full-text. Over 3,000 peer-reviewed sources.
Project Muse
Full-text of more than 250 journals, Focused primarily on humanities, with some coverage of performing arts, social sciences, and education as well. 25 of the journals continue coverage from JSTOR.
Digital Dissertations
Indexes over 1.6 million dissertations and masters theses. Some free online full text since 1997.

General Resources: Citations and Abstracts

Web of Science
Despite the name, this citation database has an Arts and Humanities Index and a Social Science Index, in addition to a Science Index. Focuses on high-impact scholarly sources and includes some really neat features, including "Cited by," Linked References, and Related Articles.

SFX logo Logo

Most of our database will include the SFX logo logo on the options for each search result. Clicking this link will open a popup window with several options for retrieving the full-text of the document. One or more of these choices will be shown:

If you would like more information about the SFX logo feature, please see the tutorial Using SFX to Link to Articles


Interlibrary Loan

There are four principal ways to access the online form to request an item through Interlibrary Loan.

See here for more information about Interlibrary Loan.



With the exception of current issues, when available, the following newspapers are on microfilm. Microfilm reader/printers are available in Periodicals. Copies may be made using your Buffalo Gold card.

Indexes for both the New York Times and the Times (London) are located in the Microforms room of the Periodicals department. Ask at the Periodicals Desk for their location.

Check the catalog for the availability and dates of newspapers located in Periodicals or browse the newspaper microfilm cabinets.

We also have access to digitized newspapers from historical eras of interest:

America's Historical Newspapers
Fully searchable digitized content of approximately 1400 different newspapers from about 45 states, with publication dates ranging from 1690 through 1922. Mostly of relevance here is the Dallas Morning News, the only one included with coverage up until 1977.
The Portal to Texas History
Includes fifty different digitized Texas newspapers covering over approximately 200 years.
The Historical New York Times online (1851-2007)
Images of all articles, advertising, letters, funeral notices and photos published in this important U.S. newspaper. Fully searchable and browseable.


Government Documents

Cornette Library collects United States federal and Texas state documents on many topics. Most United States government documents published since 1994 are listed in the Cornette Library's Online Catalog. To find older documents, you will need to use the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications. We also have British Parliamentary Papers from 1731-1978/79 in microform. Documents are a great place for primary sources.

United States

Finding Government Documents
Overview of how to find government documents in the Cornette Library.
Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications
Indexes all United States government documents made available through the Government Printing Office. Includes all types of U.S. government documents, including Congressional reports, hearings, debates, and records; judiciary materials; and documents issued by executive departments (Defense, State, Labor, Office of the President, etc.). Dates available include:
U.S. Government Web Sites
Cornette Library's guide to finding U.S. government web sites by subject, agency, and title.
Examples of Primary Source Government Documents
  • Trial of the Major War Criminals (Nuremberg Trials) - M 105.2:C 86 Docs.
  • Foreign Relations of the United States - S 1.1: Docs.
  • Territorial Papers of the United States - GS 4.13: Docs.
  • Public Papers of the Presidents - GS 4.113: Docs.
  • Documents on Germany - S 1.2:G 31/5/944-85 Docs.


Texas Web Sites
Cornette Library's guide to finding Texas government web sites with sections on general guides, government sites, law and legislation, finances, resources for business, and local governments.


Special Collections

The Special Collections Department is composed of the Frank M. Blackburn Reading Room, the Texas Poets Corner, and the Archives. Materials in these areas have restricted access and use of these materials in these areas requires special procedures. Materials in these areas may be identified through Cornette Library's online catalog.


World Wide Web

The Web can be a useful source for finding primary sources and scholarly information as many libraries, archives, museums, and individual researchers have put digitized (scanned) images on their Web sites. You will also find secondary sources that can lead you to additional primary sources.

History Web Sites

Web Guides


Citing Your Sources

The Chicago Manual of Style

You have subscription access through our web site to the online version of The Chicago Manual of Style. You can search or browse either the 16th or 15th edition. In the 16th edition, Chapter 14 deals in detail with citing your sources with notes and bibliography.

You may also find very useful their Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide.

Print copies of the Chicago Manual and of A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate Turabian, which presents the same citation styles, are available at the Reference Desk and on the Reserve Shelves at the Circulation Desk.

Why must I cite the sources I use for research projects?


Your Comments

There's always room for improvement!

If you have suggestions for improvements or would like to comment on something you found especially useful about this course guide, please email Linda Chenoweth. Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.