This course guide introduces students to the research process for finding primary sources, secondary sources, archives, 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 for tips
Identify key concepts and themes by consulting handbooks, online dictionaries or encyclopedias
- A companion to African History
- African Sexualities: a reader (print book)
- Encyclopedia of twentieth-century African history
- New Encyclopedia of Africa
- Oxford Reference Online
- Perspectives on Africa: a reader in culture, history and representation (print book)
- SAGE Knowledge Encyclopedias
- The Sexual History of the Global South
Consult handbooks for help with research and writing
- Please consider reading:
- Developing strong research questions (web guide)
- Essaying the past; how to read, write and think about history (e-book)
- Student writing; give it a generous reading (e-book)
Dissertations and Theses:
Selected journals for this course are listed below:
- To search for articles within each of these journals in Omni, click on Journal Searching for instructions.
- African Studies Review
- American Historical Review
- Journal of African History
- Journal African Studies
- Journal of Southern African Studies
- South African Historical Journal
- South African Review of Sociology
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 Africa
- Use OR to between related words or synonyms - (race OR gender)
- Use NOT to exclude terms; imperialism NOT intervention
- Use quotation marks to search for phrases - "African sexualities"
- Use the asterisk* for word endings to broaden your search - Afric* for Africa, African, Africanist
- 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)
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: History beyond the text: a student's guide to approaching alternative sources
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
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.
Historical Newspaper Databases