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History Subject Guide: HIST 2511/2521: The American Experience

A guide to key databases, reference & web sources, and research & citation guides for History

Course Guide: HIST 2511/2521: The American Experience

Information Resources for History 2511/2521

Prepared by Elizabeth Millar, R.P. Bell Library | Reference Office, Bell Library, Room M11 | 364-2572

Selecting a Topic

Researching and writing are much easier when you are working on a topic that interests you. Similarly, the right topic is neither so broad that you are swamped with resources, nor so narrow that little has been written on it. As you refine your topic, be flexible in your approach. It may sound trite, but it is especially important when doing historiographical research to let the resources guide your work.

Finding Resources

Dr. Naylor would like you to focus on books for this assignment, but you may use high-quality journal articles to augment your coverage of your topic.

Note: Do not limit your search for books to Mount Allison’s online catalogue. In addition to the card catalogue on the main floor of the library and Dr. Naylor’s personal library, other library catalogues, and Internet resources such as Google books can lead you to important materials we may not have in Sackville. Start your research early in order to make full use of your free Inter-Library Loan privileges.

Library Catalogues

Mount Allison Libraries Online Catalogue

From the Mount Allison Libraries and Archives web site ( click on “Mt.A Library Catalogue” in the “Quick Links” section on the right. If you are on campus, click ALL USERS; if you are off campus click “Mount Allison Users.”

Exact Searches

When you know exactly what you are searching for, such as the specific title or author of a book or journal use Exact Search.

Example: Daughters of the Union: Northern Women Fight the Civil War
Search: daughters of the union (click “Title begins…”)

Keyword Searches

When you are exploring a topic and looking for a variety of resources, use a Keyword Search.

Example: women and the institution of slavery
Search: women AND slave$ AND history AND "united states" (keyword anywhere)


The $ is a truncation symbol that permits you to search for variations of a term all at once. The example above shows “slave$” – this means the database will search for all words that begin with “slave” such as slaves, slavery, slaveholders.

Other useful search symbols are the double quotation marks which you should use to search for a specific phrase, such as “united states.” This means the database will search for “united states” in that exact order, with no words in between.

Think of synonyms and terms which are related to your topic and search for them as well. It is possible that the term you are using isn’t the same as what the database has selected to describe the topic. It doesn’t necessarily mean your term is wrong, it’s just different.

Example (synonyms): blacks, African Americans, coloreds, Negroes
Example (related terms): race relations, slavery, emancipation

To limit a search, use the Boolean operator AND to combine search terms; limit the search to “keyword in title” or other field; or enter the search in the Advanced Keyword Search fields and limit by language, type of resource, location of resource, or publication year. To increase the number of search results, use the Boolean operator OR to combine similar search terms (synonyms).

Use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LC Subjects) to refine your search. They are listed in the “Full Record” screen of each item and link to other resources which are about that topic.

Use the Library of Congress call numbers to confirm the discipline to which the item belongs, and its relevance to you work. Selected subject areas are:

Call numbers beginning C, D, E or F are in HISTORY
Call numbers beginning HQ are in WOMEN’S STUDIES
Call numbers beginning PS are in LITERATURE

Other Online Catalogues

There is a list of library catalogues on the Mount Allison Libraries web site here: For this assignment, you may find one of the most useful catalogues is WorldCat (the OCLC Online Union Catalog). It includes Mount Allison’s holdings (highlighted in blue) as well as those for libraries around the world. Use the same strategy for searching other catalogues as you do for finding materials in Mount Allison’s.

Inter-Library Loan (ILL)

If you need a resource (book, film, journal article) that isn’t available at Mount Allison, the libraries can bring it in for you at no charge. Go to the Circulation Desk first to activate your student card, and then click on the link to the “Interlibrary Loan Request Form” on the bottom right of the library’s home page. It leads to the ILL web page here:

Note: Interlibrary loans can take one to two weeks or longer, depending on where the items are located. Start your research early in order to leave yourself time should you require resources from other libraries.

Borrowing In-Person From Canadian University Libraries (CAUL/CBUA Card)

An CAUL/CBUA card provides Mount Allison students with borrowing privileges at university libraries across Canada. A major benefit is that you may return materials you have borrowed on your CAUL/CBUA card to one of the Mount Allison circulation desks. You must get the card before leaving Sackville. More information is available here:

Writing an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography enhances a standard bibliography by providing a brief description of each resource in addition to the citation.

Online Guides

Knott, Deborah. “Writing an Annotated Bibliography.” Writing at the University of Toronto. Toronto: New College Writing Centre, University of Toronto, 2002. (accessed April 7, 2020).

Memorial University Libraries. “How to Write Annotated Bibliographies.” St. John’s, NL: Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2007. (accessed April 7, 2020).

Stacks, Geoff, and Erin Karper. "Annotated Bibliographies." /The Owl at Purdue/. Edited by Dana Lynn Driscoll. Purdue, IN: The Purdue Online Writing Lab, Purdue University, 2007. (accessed April 7, 2020).

Print Resources

Gobbett, Brian, and Robert Irwin. Introducing Canada: an annotated bibliography of Canadian history in English. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1998.
MTA Call Number: Z 1382 .G63 1998 REF

Storey, William Kelleher. Writing history: a guide for students. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. See especially pages 15-16.
MTA Call Number: D 16 .S864 2003

Wetherell, Donald G. An annotated bibliography of northern Alberta history to 1950. Edmonton: Canadian Circumpolar Institute Press, 2000.
MTA Call Number: Z 1392 .A4 W47 2000 REF


The Chicago Manual of Style

Dr. Naylor has requested that you use The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition to format your footnotes and bibliographies. The print volume is on the main floor of the R.P. Bell Library, call number: REF Z 253 .U69 2003. There is also a quick reference sheet available at the Reference Desk, and online at:

The Chicago Manual of Style has two types of formatting: author/date and notes/bibliography. For this course, you are to use the notes/bibliography version to format your citations, but you may use a shortened form of the citation for second/subsequent footnotes.


Footnotes are formatted as a special “first line” indent (only the first line is indented), and bibliographies are formatted as a special “hanging” indent (the first line is not indented, but all subsequent lines are). These are easily formatted in Microsoft Word by using the “format, paragraph” option. Select the text of your footnote or bibliographical citation, click “Format,” then “Paragraph,” then in the “Indentation” section change “Special” to the type you need.

Please note that the following examples are not properly indented.

One Author

(B) Newman, Mark. The Civil Rights Movement. Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, 2004.

(1FN) 1Mark Newman, The Civil Rights Movement (Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, 2004), 15.

(2FN) 2Newman, Civil Rights Movement, 15.

Edited Work

(B) Gould, Eliga H. Gould and Peter S. Onuf, eds. Empire And Nation: The American Revolution In The Atlantic World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.

(1FN) 1Eliga H. Gould and Peter S. Onuf, eds., Empire And Nation: The American Revolution In The Atlantic World (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), 34.

(2FN) 2Gould and Onuf, Empire And Nation, 34.


You can also use RefWorks to help organize your resources. More information is available on the “Research & Citation Guides” page here: If you do decide to use RefWorks, make sure you take one of the tutorials listed in the Help menu, or talk to one of the reference librarians well before your essay is due. It can really help you work, but RefWorks is not an easy tool to learn at the last minute.


RefWorks can fix some errors automatically, but not all. Be sure to review your footnotes and bibliography for accuracy before you hand in your assignment.

Questions? Ask a Librarian.

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Elizabeth Millar
Room 302
Ralph Pickard Bell Library
49 York St.
Sackville, NB E4L 1C6