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HIST 300 - Introduction to Historical Studies: Search Strategies for Books

Historical Research Texts and Reference Books

The following is a short list of books that are available at the USC Upstate library; books with the letters REF at the beginning of the call number are for use within the library and may not be checked out.  The list is provided as a starting point, and is by no means exhaustive.  

Finding Secondary and Reference Sources

Make use of secondary and reference sources to help you find primary source materials.  These include:

  • Bibliographies
  • Guides to the Literature in your subject
  • Periodical Indexes
  • Biographical Resources
  • Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Handbooks
  • Secondary Sources (mine the text, footnotes, bibliographies, and acknowledgements for ideas)

Getting an Overview: Tertiary Sources

When researching history, the best approach is to start broadly by reading general overviews and background material on a particular subject or topic.  The following database provides excellent source material on many subjects through encyclopedias and subject dictionaries.  In the search box, type "historiographies" to return a list of reference materials; narrow your search by adding a second, general topical keyword such as "Renaissance" or "African American".  

Search Strategies and Locations for Books

Search Locations and Services  (links located at the bottom of the box)

  • Books may be found in our library (use the Search catalog), in statewide academic libraries (via the PASCAL Delivers service), nationally, or internationally using different search techniques
  • PASCAL Delivers - When a book is unavailable in the USC Upstate library, you may be able to request it for free from another library in the state via the PASCAL Delivers service.  A "Request" link in the catalog record under "Get It" will take you through the steps of requesting the materials.  Books are delivered to the USC Upstate Library (allow up to 5 days for delivery).
  • WorldCat - Use this resource to locate books throughout the US and the world, which can be requested through ILL
  • Interlibrary loan - Once registered, you can request materials held throughout the US or world
    Allow two weeks or so for delivery of ILL items.
  • Many rare historical texts cannot be taken from other libraries, so plan ahead when visiting another collection.
  • Library codes may be entered to focus on a specific collection (Example: DLC for the Library of Congress)

Search Strategies for Reference Books

Search catalog: Search Strategies

  • Search the library catalog for sources related to your topic.  Begin broadly and develop a more specific search.
  • Select keywords based on your broad and specific definition of your topic
  • Use a variety of terms: Charleston AND...redevelopment, planning, community, politics, urban, etc
  • Consult the works cited in books that you use and request those books using services indicated below

Finding Reference Books in the Search catalog

  • Enter the letters REF and select Search catalog
  • Combine REF with another keyword (not shown in this graphic) to target your search to specific materials

Enter letters REF into search bar; select REF:SearchUP Catalog

  • Limit to USC Upstate Reference using the checkbox

Check the box on left hand side under "Refine my results" for USC Upstate Reference

  • A list of Reference materials will populate; note that items will indicate whether they are available or not

Results example of Reference books available