Your assignments at university are an invitation to join a scholarly conversation by exploring topics in depth, weighing the evidence, and drawing your own conclusions.  A good research topic is one that sparks your interest and allows you to ask new questions. This guide is intended to help you get started.

Pick a research topic

  • Read your assignment instructions carefully
  • Pick a topic that interests you and meets the criteria of the assignment
  • Identify key concepts of your research topic
  • Do some background reading on your topic using Wikipedia

Use dictionaries, encyclopedias and handbooks to find definitions, introductions and overviews of your topic

Finding primary sources in the library collection

   1. Original documents can be found by consulting the Archives and Research Collections (ARC) website.
   2. Reproductions can be found by checking the library catalogue.

Use specific words to locate primary sources in the Library catalogue, such as: correspondence, sources, diaries, letters, personal naratives. KEYWORD search examples:

  • [PERSON’S NAME] and s:correspondence
  • [KEYWORD] and s:diaries
  • [PERSON’S NAME] and s:letters
  • [KEYWORD] and s:sources


Provides links to Western European historical documents (mainly primary) that are transcribed, reproduced in facsimile, or translated.

Provides links to free scholarly websites of digitized primary documents and online digital archives on European history. Browse by country, language, period, subject, or type of source.

This is a collection of translated media reports from around the world. Many are first-hand reports of events as they occurred providing an archive of transcripts of foreign broadcasts and news for the second half of the 20th century.  1974-1996

Medieval manuscripts from libraries around the world dating from the 13th to the 16th centuries including translations and maps.

All-types of documents: 1993 - present; Resolutions: 1946 - present

Freely accessible database covering all disciplines of medieval sciences for the European language sphere.



Church and Religion


Searchable database of classical French Writings

This site contains links to over 1200 digitized photographs and images recorded during the Siege and Commune of Paris cir.1871. In addition, the Library's Siege & Commune Collection contains 1500 caricatures, 68 newspapers in hard-copy and film, hundreds of books and pamphlets and about 1000 posters.


Clio-online is a central Internet gateway for historical scholarship in teaching and research. Sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) from 2002 until 2007, the gateway enables efficient access to the diverse range of historical online resources.

A collection of primary source materials documenting Germany's political, social, and cultural history from 1500 to the present.

Digtized (browsable) version of a massive collection of sources for the study of German history from the end of the Roman Empire to 1500. In progress.

107,695 pages of transcripts of parliamentary debates and various indexes.

The Holocaust

Italy and the Vatican

The Patrologia Latina Database contains 221 volumes.  It cover the works of the Latin Fathers, from Tertullian in 200 A.D. to Pope Innocent III in 1216.


Collection of primary and some secondary sources dealing with all aspects of Western (including the Middle East) medieval history.

Spain and Portugal (Iberia)

Now available through The Digital Scriptorium.

Links to archive by region, diaspora and country, as well as international archives containing Ibero-Americana.

Access to over a million digital objects from 121 repositories in Spain. A project of the Ministry of Culture. (Searchable database of documents, facsimiles, transcriptions, photos, sound recordings, etc.)

A portal and database created by Spain's Ministerio de Cultura containing more than twenty million documents and digital images from the principal Spanish archives, including the Archive of the Indies and Archive of the Spanish Civil War.

1821-1911; Portuguese-language transcriptions.

Of significant interest is the wide selection of women's magazines written by men to appeal to an elite female audience. The collection is full of things such as short historical stories, poems, good advice for both men and women about the proper behavior of ladies at any age, beautiful colored and engraved images with the latest news of Paris fashion, music sheets of polkas and other music specifically composed for the magazines, and patterns for needlework, to name only a few. These magazines are an amazing window to understand the social dimensions of women in 19th century Spain. Type in "SPANISH PERIODICALS" in the search box.


History of Switzerland: Primary Documents (EuroDocs)


The main Dutch newspapers from 1618 to 1995. A selection of national, regional, local, Dutch East Indies, Surinam and Antillean newspapers and additional titles from 1940-1945.

Carleton University Library is a member of the CRL consortium. CRL has a collection of over 5,800 foreign (non-American) newspapers in its Foreign Newspapers database. For details about retrieval and use of these materials, consult Interlibrary Loans.

Government Documents

In the Library:

On the Web:

Public Opinion Analysis sector of the European Commission.


The French Revolution Digital Archive is a multi-year collaboration of the Stanford University Libraries and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) to produce a digital version of the key research sources of the French Revolution. The archive is based around two main resources, the Archives parlementaires and a vast corpus of images first brought together in 1989 and known as the Images de la Revolution française.

Films and Videos

Collection of streaming educational videos that cover a wide spectrum of disciplines. Contains both clips and full-length videos.

For video material at the Carleton Univeristy library, do a KEYWORD search in the library catalogue and limit "Material Type" to FILM/VIDEO. If you cannot find what you need search the following database:

If you wish to borrow a video listed in Watmedia please fill out our Interfilm Video Request form - do not submit requests directly to Watmedia.

Access to hundreds of thousands of film historical documents as preserved in European film archives and cinémathèques: photos, posters, programmes, periodicals, censorship documents, rare feature and documentary films, newsreels and other materials.


WESSWEB is a collection of links to high-quality information resources for the study of Western Europe.

European Union

The Archive of European Integration (AEI) is an electronic repository and archive for research materials on the topic of European integration and unification. The AEI collects two types of materials: certain types of independently-produced research materials and official European Community/European Union documents.


A bilingual digital library that explores the history of the French presence in North America from the first decades of the 16th century to the end of the 19th century.

A database of Francophone literature of the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. Records of authors (biographies, bibliographies, photos, excerpts, etc.






Maps of Paris dating from 1843.


Spain & Portugal

The database provides access to information about Basque topics written or produced after 1994.

Collection contains over 4,000 color slides and black and white photographs of medieval Spain . The images span over 1,000 years of architectural history, from the seventh to the seventeenth century.

Contains online versions of secondary works and some primary sources, some in the English language.

Content last updated: November 23, 2018