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SUNY Geneseo Fraser Hall Library Subject Guides


HIST 162 History Matters/U.S.: BLM -- Professor Crosby: Research Advice

Phrase Searching (Quotation Marks)

Quotations marks (" ") will group words as a phrase, ensuring they appear next to each other in the record. For example:

will return only articles that use those terms right next to each other.

whereas will return articles that may mention Great in one part of the record and Depression in another part of the record. 

Twitter Tools

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Advice on Searching for Primary Sources

You will get limited results if you try to search for "primary sources" in library databases since the Library of Congress does not use that subject heading.  Try searching these subject headings instead:

sources
personal narratives
documents
speeches
memoirs or autobiographies
diaries

letters or correspondences
oral histories

SOME ADVICE ON AUTOBIOGRAPHIES:  You will get limited results searching for the word "autobiography" since the Library of Congress does not use that subject heading.  Try searching for "biography" but then look to make sure that the author is also listed as a subject. That is your clue that the person is writing about him or herself, and that is a primary source.

DOCUMENTARY HISTORIES:  There are collections of documents relating to various subjects, such as Agriculture in the United States: A Documentary History.  Search IDS for these by typing your subject along with the phrase "documentary history" in quotes. 

DOCUMENTARY FILMS:  Be wary of "documentaries" (films) because sometimes they are primary sources but often they provide analysis that is secondary.

PUBLICATION DATES:  Be aware that publication dates can be misleading. A book could have been written in 1952 but republished with a 20013 publication date; this is still a primary source. 

Truncation (The Asterisk)

An Asterisk (*) at the end of a term will allow you to search for different forms of a word with what you enter as a base.  For example:

will return Education, Educator, Educators, Educate, Educated

whereas

will return just Education exactly as you type it in.

This is a very simple and effective way of broadening the number of results you get.

Call Numbers


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Search Techniques