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HIST 4416 Environmental History of North America (Young): Search Strategies

Tips for Effective Library Research

Before You Start Your Search

  1. Identify your topic and break it down into concepts.
  2. Think about what kind of source you want to find. 
  3. Create keywords or search terms.

Starting Your Search

  1. Use "AND", "OR", or "NOT" to join search terms. (ex. Boulder AND development)
  2. Use Quotations to keep words in a phrase together. (ex. "Red Rocks" AND history)
  3. Filter your results by date, source type, disciple, language, and location by using the left panel.

Work with Your Sources

  1. Assess your results with reading and note taking strategies. 
  2. Engage with your sources and integrate them into your work.

Finding Primary Sources in OneSearch

There are many primary sources available in the Libraries, including paper documents such as books, pamphlets, broadsides, and manuscripts from the period under study, as well as electronic, microform, and printed collections of these documents published at a later date.

You can locate most relevant items in the Libraries by searching the library search bar, OneSearch. There are several ways to search OneSearch effectively for primary sources:

  • Do a WORD search on your topic, thinking of synonyms for your search terms. Notice that you can specify language, location (e.g. Reference), material type, year, and search and sort. You will get a mixed bag of results, including both primary and secondary sources.
    • Then add one of the special subject terms that identify primary materials: sources (more general), correspondence, diaries, narratives, pamphlets, speeches, letters, documents, etc.
    • Again doing a WORD search and limiting the dates of publication by year, entering the dates bounding your time period. For this search, leave off any special subject terms identifying primary materials.
  • Another approach is to do an AUTHOR search for books written by key participants (people or organizations) in the events you are investigating.
  • Once you have found a useful item on your topic, take note of the Subject headings listed in the item's full OneSearch record. Click on these links to find related materials.

Not all of the materials located in some library departments have records in OneSearch, so the best policy is to visit them as well.

Summer 2023: Major System Updates

You'll notice some changes as we work.
  • New Library Catalog: try it out and tell us what you think
  • Prospector will be unavailable from May 19 through Spring 2024. 

Full details on our library services platform migration project & timeline.

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