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This guide provides print, online, and local resources for historical research.

Frequently Asked Question

What are the differences between websites and library databases?

1.  Generally, websites and library databases both can contain:

  • scholarly information (such as facts, scholarly essays, research results, and research reports), and
  • non-scholarly information (such as popular opinion and guesswork).

NOTE: Researchers should take the time to verify research results by checking several other reliable sources before using it or acting on it. (See more about how to determine what types of sources are credible at PPLD's LibGuide on Finding Good Information here.)

2.  Library databases do not generally use natural language to search, but use specialized wording and symbols. One of the benefits of using library databases is that they give more precise results than websites or web searches, which may include duplicate or irrelevant results.

3.  In addition, library databases contain content that is sometimes only available by paying for it. The library pays for access to that information on behalf of the community it serves.

4.  Online web searches often do use natural language, but the results may not be exactly what a researcher is looking for.

5.  The order of an online result list is also often based on the priorities of the companies who offer the search (usually at no out-of-pocket cost), rather than the priorities of the researcher.  

For a more detailed discussion of researching best practices, see PPLD's LibGuide on Information and Media Literacy here.

History & Research Methodology Resources Featured in PPLD's Collection

Narratives in Research

Available as an eBook for checkout through hoopla

Narratives In Research is specially written to encourage emerging researchers. This book covers the experiences of the author as a researcher over many years. The book carefully discusses some key considerations for formulating a research topic. Furthermore, it offers some pieces of advice on how to skillfully place research within the appropriate context. Problem statement, research questions, objectives and hypotheses of a study are also explained and placed appropriately in the context of the research process.

The book uncovers important truths about literature review that is often missing from many academic write-ups and reports. The methodology of a research is accorded an important place in this book. How to approach results, discussions and conclusions of an investigation, are presented in this book.

This book concludes with some important checklists for ensuring a quality research process and output.

Historical Research Using British Newspapers

Available as an eBook for checkout through hoopla and (as featured here) as an eBook for checkout through Freading

Thanks to digitization, newspapers from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century have become an indispensable and accessible source for researchers. Through their pages, historians with a passion for a person or a place or a time or a topic can rediscover forgotten details and gain new insights into the society and values of bygone ages. Historical Research Using British Newspapers provides plenty of practical advice for anyone intending to use old newspapers by:
* outlining the strengths of newspapers as source material
* revealing the drawbacks of newspapers as sources and giving ways to guard against them
* tracing the development of the British newspaper industry
* showing the type of information that can be found in newspapers and how it can be used
* identifying the best newspapers to start with when researching a particular topic
* suggesting methods to locate the most relevant articles available
* demonstrating techniques for collating, analyzing, and interpreting information
* showing how to place newspaper reports in their wider context

In addition nine case studies are included, showing how researchers have already made productive use of newspapers to gain insights that were not available from elsewhere.

Church History: An Introduction to Research Methods and Resources

Available as an eBook for checkout through hoopla and (as featured here) an eBook for checkout through Freading

In their acclaimed, much-used Church History, James Bradley and Richard Muller lay out guidelines, methods, and basic reference tools for research and writing in the fields of church history and historical theology. Over the years, this book has helped countless students define their topics, locate relevant source materials, and write quality papers.

This revised, expanded, and updated second edition includes discussion of Internet-based research, digitized texts, and the electronic forms of research tools. The greatly enlarged bibliography of study aids now includes many significant new resources that have become available since the first edition's publication in 1995. Accessible and clear, this introduction will continue to benefit both students and experienced scholars in the field.

Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (3rd ed., rev.)

Available for on-site reference at PPLD's Regional History & Genealogy stacks

Evidence Explained is a guide to the citation and analysis of historical sources. It begins with a simple question: Why do we invest so much of our energy into the citation of sources? Followed by the answer: Because all sources are not created equal. As a citation guide, Evidence Explained is built on this simple question and answer. According to the author, there are no historical resources we can trust at face value. Records simply offer evidence, and their assertions may or may not be true. To decide what actually happened, we must understand those records.

U. S. Military Records

Available for on-site reference at PPLD's Regional History & Genealogy stacks

From the earliest days of the United States, millions of Americans have served their country in the military. Indeed, most families have seen one or more members serve in America's armed forces. For this reason, genealogists and others wisely look to military records for information needed to enhance their research. Enlistment forms, muster rolls, pension applications . . . records created as a result of individuals' military service are extremely valuable because they often contain detailed personal information about their subjects--date and place of birth, places of residence, names and addresses of loved ones, and more. The researcher's dilemma is in knowing what records are available and how to find them among the overwhelming abundance of military records. James Neagles' U.S. Military Records is the answer to this dilemma. U.S. Military Records describes the records that are available and where they can be found. Gathered in this volume is source information for the National Archives and its adjuncts; historical institutions and archives of the armed forces; the Department of Veterans Affairs (Veterans Administration); state archives, libraries and historical organizations; and such patriotic organizations as the Daughters of the American Revolution. Extensive bibliographic listings of published sources for the United States in general and published sources for each state are also included.

Women's Lives: Researching Women's Social History, 1800–1939

Available as an eBook for checkout through hoopla, an eBook for checkout through Freading, and (as featured here) an eBook for checkout through Libby/OverDrive

Women’s lives have traditionally gone unrecorded in history. But housewives, factory girls and servants all had their own distinctive voices, and, if you know where to look, there are plenty of sources to explore. Jennifer Newby’s guide to women’s social history between 1800 and 1939 includes essential starting points for research. A useful handbook for family historians, as well as an engaging read for social history lovers, each chapter focuses on a different group, with suggestions for further reading and a helpful timeline.

New England Court Records: A Research Guide for Genealogists and Historians

Available for on-site reference at PPLD's Regional History & Genealogy stacks

For beginners and experienced researchers, Rapaport provides a guide to understanding and obtaining court records in the New England states. She explains the fundamentals of law, types of courts and documents and where to find them, terminology, then individual chapters on Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. These chapters consist of a timeline of the history of the courts, a description of their structure, and a list of sources by county. The final section describes examples of searches using computer databases, federal court records, indexes, justice of the peace records, and law library research, including how to search for people of color. The appendices list contact information for state and federal courts and other sources. Rapaport is a former trial lawyer and writes the column "Tales from the Courthouse" for New England Ancestors magazine.

The Local Historian's Encyclopedia (2nd ed.)

Available for on-site reference at PPLD's Regional History & Genealogy stacks

Revised and expanded edition of an extremely popular book on local history. A guide to research into local history with chapters including: land and agriculture, the local community, taxes, services and rents, archives, documents and printed records; palaeography; museums, libraries and county record offices; organistions and societies; genealogy; education; social welfare; law and order; utilities and services; roads and transport; religion; coins and tokens; the militia; architecture and housing; heraldry; trades and occupations; archaeology.

The Great Courses: Effective Research Methods for Any Project

Available as an eAudiobook for checkout through OverDrive/Libby and (as featured here) as an eAudiobook for checkout through hoopla

We rely on effective research in many areas of life. But what makes research effective? Any good research rests upon, above all else, method. And the best research methods are accessible and easy to utilize once you master them.

In the 24 dynamic lectures of Effective Research Methods for Any Project, Professor Amanda M. Rosen of Webster University, introduces you to the remarkable procedures and techniques that make research such a powerful tool. This brilliantly conceived course gives you a deep, detailed, and practical guide to proper research methods-methods that are broadly applicable to all kinds of research.
As groundwork for your own research, you'll investigate research ethics, the role of reviewing the scholarly literature, how to choose a topic and a research question, how to choose the best research design, and how to measure your data.

Photographers: A Sourcebook for Historical Research

Available for on-site reference at PPLD's Regional History & Genealogy stacks

Completely revised edition, featuring Richard Rudisill's Directories of Photographers, an annotated international bibliography, and six new essays on photography research. Included are David Haynes' "how to" essay expanded to include new resources provided by the advent of the computer and the World Wide Web); Linda Ries's sequel to her fascinating story of photographer Charles Lochman (the original essay is included in the appendix); Jeremy Rowe's report on legal issues pertaining to reproducing photographs; Drew Johnson's case study on utilizing a regional collection of photographs at the Oakland museum; Steve Knoblock's history of his innovative photo history web site; and Peter Palmquist's essay on his research agency, "Women in Photography International Archive."

Practicing History: Selected Essays

Available as an eBook for checkout through Libby/OverDrive

Celebrated for bringing a personal touch to history in her Pulitzer Prize–winning epic The Guns of August and other classic books, Barbara W. Tuchman reflects on world events and the historian’s craft in these perceptive, essential essays. From thoughtful pieces on the historian’s role to striking insights into America’s past and present to trenchant observations on the international scene, Barbara W. Tuchman looks at history in a unique way and draws lessons from what she sees.

Online Resources - General History Databases & Recommended Websites

PPLD Databases

For area-focused or subject-focused databases, see the blue tabs (at the top of the screen on mobile devices or at the left of the screen on computers).

Recommended Websites

For area-focused or subject-focused websites, see the blue tabs (at the top of the screen on mobile devices or at the left of the screen on computers).

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