SCOPE: Over the course of U. S. History there have been countless issues, movements, developments and events that had a profound impact on American life. In order to investigate any of these occurrences one has to look at a wide variety of resources, both print and online. This pathfinder will help you locate relevant materials that span U.S. History from our nation's beginnings to the present.
GENERAL ADVICE: It's always a good idea to begin your investigation in a general encyclopedia, especially if you know very little about your topic. Encyclopedias such as Encyclopedia Britannica, or electronic ones such as ABC CLIO can give you good background information and are a good source of keywords (people places, dates, names of events) about your topic. You should plan to explore your topic in its historical, political, social and economic context. Once you have background and specific vocabulary you can search in more specialized sources. Be sure to seek out primary sources for documents, newspapers, posters, advertisements, video and audio recordings, letters, and diaries.
DEWEY NUMBERS: Note: there will be books about incidents in American History in virtually every main Dewey section. Be sure to browse the shelves in these areas. Dewey numbers are the same for the reference section, and in most public libraries.
300s Social issues 310s statistics 320s systems of government 330s economics 340s law 360s social services and problems 370s education 380s commerce, transportation 390s customs, dress, folklore 500s Natural sciences (math, biology, physics, astronomy) 600s Applied sciences (medicine, technology, inventions, engineering, manufacturing) 700s fine arts (art, architecture, music, dance, theatre, cinema) 800s literature (810s for American literature) 900s geography and history 910s geography and travel 920s collective biographies(especially in Reference) 970s American history from pre-Columbian times (Native Americans) 973 U. S. History-arranged in chronological order: (e.g. 973.2 colonies, 973.7 civil war) 974-9 specific states arranged roughly east to west
SPECIFIC RESOURCES TO CHECK IN OUR LIBRARY:many with primary sources
Annals of America Ref 973 ANN (Many volumes of primary documents in chronological order) Grolier Library of World War I REF 940.3 Encyclopedia of African American History and Culture REF 973.04 ENC
Encyclopedia of the United States in the Twentieth Century REF 973.003 ENC Documents of American History 973.08 COM American Decades REF 973.91-973.92 20th Century America REF 973.92 TWE American Heritage Magazines 1955-present See Index.
There are many books on specific topics, and lots of others that may have a section on your topic. Check the OPAC using one or more keywords.
ONLINE DATABASES and E-Books
When searching databases, start with a subject search whenever possible. Fewer words are better than more; put phrases in "...". (e.g. "women's suffrage"). Try using the POWER SEARCH, which searches many databases and some of the e-books at once.
Specify a range of dates where that is possible. Some good places to start are:
ABC-CLIO:American History, World HistoryModern Era, American Government, Pop Culture Universe
JSTOR (archives of scholarly journals, historical and personal papers)
ProQuest Historical Newspapers (NYTimes, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Constitution, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and LA Times)
Newspaper Archives (small town papers across the US and some other nations)
This site has all kinds of educational videos, many with live footage of historical events.
Student passcode: 8BD6-1FD3
Enter the student passcode; you will be invited to create your own personal username and password. Each time you wish to use Discovery Education, enter your own username and password. Search by subject or keyword.
The Internet is a vast, unstructured place. Check with the librarian and/or your teacher for suggestions for specific sites. Try some of the sites offered from searches done on Encyclopedia Britannica, SIRS or Student Resource Center. If, after using other resources you need more information, use the most specific vocabulary you can to search the web. Be sure to carefully evaluate any sources you find using a search engine!
American Memory:http://memory.loc.gov/ammem A HUGE collection of primary sources not reachable through Google. Ask for help navigating this valuable resource.
SoJust.net: A Document History of Social Justice http://www.sojust.net/speeches.html Uncover the history of anti-racism, suffrage, the gay rights movement, labor activism, and other movements through historic speeches, song lyrics, poetry, essays, and other documentary artifacts related to social justice.