To access ALL DATABASES offered by the library for historical research, please click on the General History Research Online tab at the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
Database. A database is an online organized collection of information covering a variety of designated topics indexed using subject terms. Databases typically include access to encyclopedias, reference materials, articles, images, and secondary and primary sources. The resources provided are usually scholarly and written by credible experts in the field.
Peer-Reviewed. Peer review is the evaluation of an article or book by one or more scholars. It establishes a process for editing and verifying one's research by having qualified members of the same profession review the article or book in order to maintain standards of quality and provide credibility.
Primary Sources. A primary source is an original source or artifact that provides evidence of a person, culture, historical event, or time period. This might exist as a document, diary, oral account, manuscript, autobiography, recording, architectural structure, or work of art. These types of primary sources were created by people with direct knowledge and experience of an event, or to serve a specific purpose during their lifetime. Primary sources are typically housed in museums and archives.
Scholarly Credibility. A scholarly article or book that contains content written by experts in a particular field of study. Some details to look for when determining whether a source is credible are as follows:
Secondary Sources. A secondary source of information is a document or recording that was created by an individual who did not experience first-hand or participate in the historical event being discussed or in the formation of an artifact. When conducting research, secondary sources typically provide scholarly information about a select topic that has been analyzed, interpreted, and/or evaluated. Thus, this source type does not substitute an original event or artifact, but assists in learning more about them.
Anyone can publish a website or webpage without it being evaluated for accuracy or quality of information. Reviews by peers, scholars, editors, and publishers are not often applied to websites. The following evaluation criteria should be applied when viewing a website:
For additional information, check out the link below. This source offers detailed criteria that can be applied when conducting research on the internet.
Getting started with your search
Use these common search techniques that can be applied to almost any database, as well as our library catalog, PPLD's website (ppld.org), and even commercial search engines.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).
A keyword search looks for one or more complete words that are contained anywhere in a record, including: titles, people, places, notes, abstracts, summaries, descriptions, and subjects. This type of search is a good substitute for a subject search when you don't know the authorized subject heading form. You can enter words in upper or lower case, and if you use multiple words you can enter them in any order.
Your search results can contain a range of items related to your keyword(s) search:
Subject headings describe the content of each item in a database. Use these headings to find relevant items on the same topic. Searching by subject headings (a.k.a., descriptors) is the most precise way to search databases.
What you need to know about subject headings, also commonly referred to as subheadings:
A phrase search uses quotation marks to allow an exact match to the phrase searched. This can be a title or keyword search, and can include two or more words. For example:
Boolean operators allow you to group, include, or exclude certain terms in your search. You can use these operators:
|Operator||Description||A search like the following...||Will return these results...|
|AND (uppercase), or the plus sign +||
This is the default search operator. The database will search using the word "AND" or the plus sign to find all of the words typed in the search box.
Note: Any search for terms without an operator will return items with all the words.
guns AND germs AND steel
guns + germs + steel
|with all of the words entered in the search box: guns, germs, steel|
|OR (uppercase), or the | symbol||The use of the word "OR", or the | symbol, will search for either of the words listed in the search box.||
costume OR fashion
costume | fashion
for any of the words entered in the search box with results that will include either terms, but not necessarily both:
costume OR fashion
|NOT (uppercase), or the minus sign -||The word "NOT" or the minus sign will exclude terms from your search.||
Paris NOT fashion
Paris - fashion
|for Paris, but not fashion|
|quotation marks " "||To search for an exact phrase, the search terms should be enclosed in quotation marks.||
|where all words are located directly next to each other in the search results|
|Use parentheses to create more precise searches.||dog (walking OR feeding OR grooming)||
Truncation allows you to search for a term and its variations by entering a minimum of the first three letters of the term followed by a question mark symbol (?) or an asterisk (*).
|This search...||Returns items whose record contains the following:|
Wildcards are special characters used to represent additional characters in a search term. They are useful when you are unsure of spelling, when there are alternate spellings, or when you only know part of a term. You can use these two wildcards:
Pound sign (#): The pound sign, also called a number sign or hash mark, represents a single character.
Question mark (?): The question mark represents any number of additional characters. Include a number if you know the maximum number of characters the wildcard will replace.
Stop words are frequently occurring, insignificant words that appear in a database record, article, or web page.
Common stop words include: a, an, the, in, of , on, are, be, if, into, which
Why stop words matter?