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The purpose of this guide is to recommend print and electronic resources for conducting research in History in the Library. Click on the links on the left for suggestions about starting your research, getting books and articles, and finding other useful tools for research in history.
To learn more about the library and its resources and how you can exploit them to your advantage, register in the Research Skills Tutorial on D2L. There are several sections in the tutorial with a short quiz at the end of each; at the end you will receive a Certificate of Completion. Many professors require you to take this tutorial--and once you finish it, you can save your certificate to reprint as often as necessary.
In the fall, the library hosts live Orientation tours as well as Zotero classes which you can sign up for at the library's entrance, and even after the formal schedule is finished, we are very happy to put on special classes at the request of at least 5 students. If you would like to arrange a special class, or you think your course would benefit from some in-class library instruction, please ask your professor to contact the librarian responsible for your faculty to set up some sessions.
Help with a Paper
In the library: The Library User Assistance Desk to your immediate left as you enter the library is a good place to start.
By email: Email the librarian responsible for your faculty for a reply during regular working hours.
By telephone: 705-675-4803, or toll free at 1-800-661-1058, ext. 2
For Distance Education students: Telephone: 1-800-661-1058, ext. 2 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Quick Tips on Preparing for Research
Before you start:
- understand the key terms you may be using as well as the general area that interests you;
- think about ways to narrow your topic, making it as specific as possible (unless you have been given a specific topic to research!);
- create a thesis statement;
- list the main concepts (key words) included in your thesis statement (research question), then based on your readings;
- find as many synonyms as you can for each main concept. You are now ready to start searching in the library's catalogue and databases.
When you are looking for definitions or if you don’t know much about a specific subject, reference works such as dictionaries and encyclopedias become invaluable because they contain relatively short—and understandable—articles. These articles often lay out the parameters of a subject and can assist you in trying to narrow your topic. Often such articles are accompanied by lists of readings (bibliographies) which allow you to explore your topic further.
The best general reference work is: The Encyclopedia Britannica. The two panels to the right feature some of the key research aids in the discipline of History.
Reference Sources for North America
- Canadian Encyclopedia
- Dictionary of Canadian Biography
- Encyclopedia of American Indian History (print)
- Encyclopedia of American Urban History (online)
- Encyclopedia of US Labor and Working-Class History (print)
- Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media (print)
- Encyclopedia of Strikes in American History (print)
- Historical Encyclopedia of American Labor (print)
- Oxford Companion to American History (print)
- Oxford Companion to Canadian History (print)
- Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History (online)
- Virtual Museum of New France
- Witch Hunts in Europe and America: An Encyclopedia (print)
Reference Sources for European and World History
- Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800-1914 (print)
- Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment (online)
- Encyclopedia of European Social History from 1350-2000 (print)
- Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages (online)
- Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century African History (online)
- Medieval Germany (online)
- Medieval Ireland: An Encyclopedia (online)
- Modern China: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Nationalism (online)
- Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance (online)
- Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World: 1750 to the Present (online)
- Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation (online)
Why Use Books?
- Books are extremely valuable resources when doing in-depth research on a topic! Authors have hundreds of pages to give detailed explanations and background information surrounding the various facets of your research interest.
- Using this kind of in-depth information will make it easier to form a research question or thesis statement (or even spark your inspiration)
- The bibliographies found in books are extensive, and will point you to other resources to add to your own resource list.
- Remember: scholars write journal articles under the assumption that you already have a relatively thorough understanding of the topic – this means that you will likely not find the foundational information needed for your topic in the beginning stages of your research process. In this sense, books become indispensable
Searching the Catalogue
The catalogue is your primary tool for finding books in the J.N. Desmarais Library. You can also use the catalogue to find other materials, including government publications and journals (the journals themselves--not individual articles).
You can search the catalogue by:
- Journal Title
When you know the book you are searching for, pick Title or Author; when you are searching for a topic, start with Keyword unless you know the exact Subject heading describing your topic.
More on searching the Catalogue is available in Module 5 of the Research Skills Tutorial in D2L.
- Some may be located by using the library’s catalogue and selecting "Electronic" item form. These records will have[electronic resource] in the title.
- E-books can also be located by searching in e-book collections. Searching in these collections is the same as searching in a database.
In addition to books, you may wish to search for book-length Master's theses or Ph.D dissertations.
Best bet: Dissertations and Theses (ProQuest).
If you are also looking for recent theses or dissertations produced by Laurentian graduates, check out our Research Repository - LUZONE. Note that since 2013, before graduation all Masters and Doctoral candidates MUST deposit their theses or dissertations in this repository.
Articles: Quick Tips
The databases to the right provide references to many scholarly journal articles and papers.
- Start off with keyword searches expressing your topic. Keyword searching crosses all fields.
- Use Search Operators such as "OR" and "AND" to expand or reduce your results.
- Review those items that look relevant, then, exploit the details within those entries to help lead you to other relevant articles.
- Pay attention to the subject headings (often called "descriptors") to see how the database describes your topic and use them to find related articles.
- Find other papers written by the same author; these will typically be on similar subjects.
- Follow citation trails: other articles that have cited this article will probably be on a related subject and will include citations to other articles of interest.
- For more Secrets of Searching a Database, review that section in How to Research Like a Librarian.
Peer Review is the evaluation of creative work by scholars in the same field in order to maintain or enhance the quality of the work in that field.
In the case of peer reviewed journals, which are usually academic, peer review generally refers to the evaluation of the articles in them prior to publication. For more, check out this definition of peer review.
- To ascertain whether a journal is peer reviewed, consult Ulrichsweb.
When researching a paper, it is useful to consult the citations used by the author of an article that you find relevant. But that article itself may have been cited by other authors after it was first written. Two sources help you identify such citations:
Getting Articles @ Laurentian
In any database, when you see an article that interests you, click on it and, unless the article is available within the database itself, within the record you will see an image that says "Get it @ Laurentian":
When you click on that, you will arrive at a menu which will lead to an electronic copy of the article you want, or, if not available electronically, to Laurentian's catalogue which will allow you to check if the article is available in print in the library, and if not, to a final link which allows you to order the item through Interlibrary loan.
Need a Film Not in Laurentian's Online Film Collections?
Consult: Watmedia (Provincial Multi-media Catalogue). Material held by Laurentian may be signed out in the library. To order a film not available at Laurentian, please email LUFilmLibrary@laurentian.ca and specify the date(s) you require the item.
Questions: Please contact Ashley Thomson who manages the Intrafilm Project.
North American Sources--General
- European Views of the Americas: 1493 to 1750
- Google Newspapers (Canadian and US)
- Hein Online Sessions Law Library This library contains the session laws of all 50 U.S. states as well as Canada, Australia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and the D.C. Register. All states are current within 60 days of the printed publication, and all states are available back to inception!
- Canadian Censuses (1825-1921)
- Canada Yearbook Historical Collection, 1867-1967 (from Statistics Canada)
- Canadian Pamphlets and Broadsides (in U. of T.’s Fisher Library) Items printed in Canada, by Canadian authors, or about Canadian subjects, mainly of a non-literary nature, pre 1930.
- Canadiana Discovery Portal (Search the digital collections of libraries, archives and museums from across Canada)
- Champlain Society Digital Collection The collection contains 101 of the Champlain Society's volumes (almost 50,000 printed pages) dealing with exploration and discovery over three centuries
- Early Canadiana Online (ECO) (80,000 rare books, magazines and government publications from the 1600s to the 1940s)
- Empire Club Speeches
- Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada 1867-c1995. Updated by Debates (Hansard) 1996-
- Linked Parliamentary Data Project (Hansard 1901- Present)
- Laurentian's Microfilm Collection Inventory
- Our Roots Canadian local histories in French and English.
- British Colonist, 1858-1910 (Newspaper)
- Peel's Prairie Provinces A resource dedicated to assisting researchers in their exploration of western Canadian history and the culture of the Canadian prairies. Contains both an online bibliography of books, pamphlets, and other materials related to the development of the Prairies, as well as a searchable full-text collection of many of these items.
- The American Presidency Project
- A Century of Lawmaking for the New Nation: US Congressional Documents and Debates 1774-1875
- Chronicling America : Historic American Newspapers (1836-1922)
- The Library of Congress Digital Collections (curated materials from texts and images through AV)
- Making of America Project A digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction available from Cornell University as well as the University of Michigan.
- The National Archives DocsTeach (primary sources collected by era)
- New York Times (Historical) 1851-2011
- Defining Gender. Source material from British and European archives (1450-1910)
- Internet History Sourcebooks: A collection of public domain document organized by the following sections: Ancient History, Medieval History, Modern History, Byzantine Studies plus Other History Sourcebooks: African, East Asian, Global, Indian, Islamic, Jewish, Lesbian and Gay, Science and Women's History
- Medieval Travel Writing The chief focus is on journeys to central Asia and the Far East, including accounts of travel to Mongolia, Persia, India, China and South-East Asia.
- Nineteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue. Printed record of the English-speaking world from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the end of the First World War.
- World History Matters (Center for History and New Media, GMU)
- Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert (in English)
- Gallica Digital Library (BNF) A massive and ongoing retrospective digitization project from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, of copyright-cleared titles (70 years and older, in accordance with French law) primarily in French but also including English, German, and other languages. Only limited text-recognition has been performed on the images in this collection, which is searchable down to the level of book title, and tables-of-content and index where present.
- British Hansard, 1803-2005
- British History Online (some parts subscription) A digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.
- Cambridge Digital Library
- CELT Corpus of Electronic Texts (University College Cork)
- Early English Books Online digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700
- Eighteenth Century Collections Online Works published in the UK during the 18th century plus thousands from elsewhere
- Eighteenth Century [British] Journals. Parts I and II. This collection consists of rare newspapers and journals illuminating all aspects of 18th-century social, political and literary life. Individual series in the portal may be searched individually or concurrently. Series I contains periodicals from the Hope Collection of the Bodleian Library; Series II includes newspapers and periodicals from the Harry Ransome Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, and Series III draws on the British Newspaper Library and Cambridge University Library. Collectively, these materials offer effective coverage of the important issues of the period, and are invaluable to the study of all aspects of the 18th century, including crime, sport, advertising, the theatre; fashion; politics, revolution; agriculture; social issues, and society life.
- Empire Online Provides full text access to primary source documents from the British Empire between 1492 and 2007.
- Historic Hansard, 1803-2005. Digitised editions of Commons and Lords Hansard
- History of Parliament Online
- House of Commons Parliamentary Papers From 1715 to the present, with supplementary material back to 1688
- Mass Observation Online British Social History, 1937-1972
- Old Bailey Online A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court between 1674 and 1913)
We cite sources to acknowledge the work of others, as well as to avoid academic dishonesty or plagiarism.
The University of Toronto has made available a comprehensive set of guidelines on "How NOT to Plagiarize" which deserves to be read by every student.
Citation Styles in Laurentian's History Program
At Laurentian, professors will specify the citation style to be used. In History, it is normally Chicago.
The Chicago style is included in Laurentian's Citation Style Guides.
Zotero is a free, web-based citation manager that allows you to:
- Directly import references from article databases, the library catalogue, e-book collections, etc.
- Manage and organize your references.
- Create a bibliography.
- Share your references with others
- Add in-text citation and a bibliography directly into your assignment
Getting started with Zotero:
- Sign up for library workshops when available.
- View Quick Start Guide (video) or Tutorials (videos)
- Consult one of Zotero's own User Guides or McMaster University's Quick Start Guide or the Zotero Guide by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology