This course guide introduces students to the research process for finding primary sources, monographs, archives, images, government information and historical newspapers.
Pick a Research topic
- Read your syllabus and course assignment instructions carefully
- Pick a topic that interests you and meets the criteria of the assignment
- Need extra help? Click on Choosing an essay topic
Do an initial search on Wikipedia for background knowledge
- Wikipedia will also help you to broaden your search terms
- Watch the video, Using Wikepedia Wisely
Identify key concepts/ideas/themes by consulting online or print encyclopedias
Consult handbooks and/or manuals for help with research and writing
Basic Search Tips
1. Identify the main concepts of your research topic and brainstorm possible keywords.
2. Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to combine keywords and enhance your search. Boolean operators must be capitalized when searching Omni.
- Use AND to combine topics - Colonialism AND Jamaica
- Use OR to between related words or synonyms - (hegemony OR dominance) | (voodoo OR vodou)
- Use NOT to exclude terms; imperialism NOT intervention
- Use quotation marks to search for phrases - "Voodoo rituals"
- Use the asterisk* for word endings to broaden your search - Canad* = Canada, Canada's, Canadian, Canadians
- Use the question mark ? for single character wildcard - wom?n - for woman, women
3. Begin searching for material with Omni, the library's main search box to find books and other sources on your topic. Remember to filter your search by content type for each new search.
4. Here are the filters for finding peer reviewed journal articles:
- Peer reviewed Journals
5. Here are the filters for finding books (monographs):
- Print/Physical Item
- Books (or Book Chapters)
- America History and Life
- Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia
- Google Scholar
- HAPI Online
- Historical Abstracts
- Periodicals Archive Online
- Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice
Dissertations and Theses:
Begin with the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources for an overview.
Searching for primary sources:
Search your topic (or historical person of interest) using Omni, the library's main search box to find primary sources (or reproductions) in our collection. Keyword searches that include the following terms will identify primary materials most of the time.
- Diar* (for diary or diaries)
- Personal narrative
Other search tips:
- Use bibliographies and footnotes of secondary sources on your topic to help identify primary source material.
- Useful book: Reading primary sources: the interpretation of texts from 19th and 20th century history
Primary Sources on the web
- Archives and Primary Sources Databases
- Digital Public Library of America
- Internet Archive
- Hathi Trust Digital Library
- Library of Congress Digital Collections
- National Archives (UK)
- New York Public Library Digital Collections
- RUSA Primary Sources on the web guide
Library Guides from other academic libraries:
- History: Latin America: Primary Sources: Caribbean (Berkeley Library, U of California)
- Cuba: History and Culture: Digital Collections (Yale University Library)
Other libraries with significant primary source collections:
- Center for Research Libraries (CRL) - Carleton University Library is a member of the CRL consortium. It regularly acquires and preserves newspapers, journals, documents, archives, and other traditional and digital resources for research and teaching and makes them available to member institutions through your RACER account.
- African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank
- Bibliografia Mesoamericana
- Castro Speech Database LANIC - Latin American Network Information Centre (University of Texas)
- Country Study: Commonwealth of Caribbean Islands (Library of Congress)
- Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC)
- Internet Archive
- Get Help with searching:
- Get Help with identifying sources:
- Get Help with writing outlines and essays:
- Get Help with your writing and citing: