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HIS 301 — The Individual, Family and Community in Historic Perspective


Contact Information

Caroline Bordinaro


Basic Library Information

Getting Started

Concepts and questions for beginning research

Search Help

Finding Books

Magazine, journal and newspaper articles online

Finding Quality Websites

Citing Your Sources

Library Guides

Basic Library Information

Library Location

Library Hours

Reserve Desk

Library Guides

Ask A Librarian

Reference Desk

Getting Started

Start your research by going to the library home page.

Checking out books: You can see what books are available in the Torofind Library Catalog. Once you have found the books you want from the shelves on the 3rd or 4th floor, bring them downstairs to the Circulation Counter to check them out. If you are a new student you might need to register first at the Circulation Counter.

Click here for a tutorial on how to use the Torofind online catalog.

Click here for the Library's Book Borrowing Policies

Concepts and questions for beginning research
  • Where to Start?
    • What's your research question?
    • What information do you need to find?
  • Who cares about the same information? (e.g.: researchers, historians, government, etc.)
    • What kind of information do they need?
    • Where would they get it?
  • Types of information available
    • Books
    • Articles from journals, magazines and newspapers
    • Websites
    • Others?
  • What is a primary source ? What is a secondary source ? Click here to find out
  • Search Concepts
    • Combining Keywords 
      • 1. AND: family AND history
        2. OR: community OR neighborhood
        3. NOT: regional NOT global
    • Phrase searching: "Korean diaspora"

General Research Tips:

Use multiple search terms - Remember, not every database or article uses exactly the same words to describe the same thing. Make sure you try several synonyms for the term you're trying to find. Most databases have a link titled "thesaurus" or "subject terms" which you can use to find out what words to search for.

Search in multiple places - The more places you look for information, the more information you're likely to find. Don't just search in one database and assume it's all you'll be able to find! Take a look at the list of Useful Databases earlier on in this page for where to start your search.

Ask for help - Don't be afraid to ask for help! Research can be an exhausting process, and sometimes a fresh perspective will make your task immensely easier. You can stop by the reference desk in the library and ask any of the reference librarians for help with your research. You can also submit an online help request which a librarian will answer within a day or two.

Don't leave it until the last minute - The earlier you start, the better your paper will be. Starting early gives you plenty of time to read and absorb the information so that you'll be properly informed when writing your paper.

Search Help
Creating an effective online search:
  1. Take your research question and circle the "action words"
  2. Think of at least three synonyms for each action word
  3. Use these words in various combination to get a good result (between 15-40 results is optimal)
  4. Combining keywords
    • AND: use to add words to results (Nike AND shoes AND marketing)
    • OR: use for syonyms or alternate words (Nike OR Adidas)
    • NOT: eliminates any results containing word (Nike NOT shoes)

Search Concepts:

  • Phrase searching"" ( "thirty years war")
  • Advanced Search: Use this frequently to determine your search options. This will save you TIME and FRUSTRATION!
  • Find subject headings attached to useful article citations, and redo your search with these controlled vocabulary terms
  • Remember, the more words you use to search or the more limits you place on a search, the fewer results you will get. (How can you get more results?)

More Search Tips:

  • Always use the Print and Save functions embedded within the screen. It is usually not a good idea to use the File-Print or File-Save As functions in the upper left hand corner of the browser.
  • Use the online HELP screens - they really are helpful!
  • If you can't find anything: don't freak out and go to Google! Ask a reference librarian for help.


  • DATABASE: An organized collection of electronic information, such as photographs, addresses, or journal articles.
  • ONLINE JOURNAL INDEX: A database that contains magazine, newspaper and journal articles, e.g: Academic Search Premier. AKA Subscription Database.
  • SCHOLARLY JOURNAL: Also called academic or refereed journal. Articles usually reviewed by experts in the field before publication, published for a research audience, narrow focus, e.g.; Molecular Endocrinology
  • MAGAZINE: Publication of general interest: popular interest and broad subjects (e.g: Psychology Today)
  • SUBJECT HEADINGS : Also called descriptors. Official terms used to classify items in a database.
  • THESAURUS: List and finding aid for official controlled vocabulary terms. Also called Topic Index or Subject List.
  • ABSTRACT: a brief summary of the main content of an article
  • FULL TEXT: the complete article. Click on the FindItCSUDH button to see if the Full Text is available.
  • CITATION: The basic information you need to find the full text of an article. It includes the title of the article, the author, the name of the publication, the date, the volume and issue number and the page numbers.

Finding Books

Go to TOROFIND: the CSUDH Library Catalog and search on the title, author, subject or keyword. Look not only for that specific call number, but also check out the books in that section.

  • If you don't see the right item listed, or want more titles, try an on a few keywords (in separate boxes), such as genealogy , ethnography or postmodernism . Add terms like anthology , novel or periodical .
  • If you still don't find the right book, ask a reference librarian.
  • Recommended indexes to older publications:
    • Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature - REF AI3. R47
    • Humanities Index - REF AI3. H85
    • International Index - REF AI3. L57
    • Poole's Index to Periodical Literature - REF AI3. P7

Electronic Books

Ebrary  is a growing collection of electronic books on a variety of topics geared to academic libraries and college students. Use the link to access this database. Ebrary does require you to download and install their software before you can read books on their site. The computers in the library already have this software installed, but at home you will have to install it yourself before you can read any of the ebooks they have.

There is also another collection called NetLibrary, which has more books. Try both to find the books you want and read them online.

Interlibrary Loan

ToroFind has an "All CSU's Catlog" button for books availabe in the 23 libraries of the California State University. Search for the book and click on this button. Highlight a library name and click on the "Request This Item" button. You must be registered with the CSUDH Library to use this service.

Use our Interlibrary Loan service to request a book from another library. You supply us the information, and the Interlibrary Loan Department will search for the book. Since books may be requested from libraries in other states, this method may take from 3 to 14 days.

Magazine, journal and newspaper articles online

These indexes must be accessed through the library home page at library.csudh.edu. Under Articles, E-books, Online Scholarly Resources, you may either browse by subject area or go to your favorite resource using the alphabetical List.

NOTE: These are subscription databases, selected and provided specifically for CSUDH students. To access from home, please see our Remote Patron Access Instructions guide for login instructions.

Recommended indexes:

  • America History and Life : indexes over 2000 journals on American History.
  • Historical Abstracts : World history from 1450 to the present.
  • Humanities Full Text: Full text articles in the areas of history, literature and other humanities.
  • Social Sciences Full Text: includes indexing, abstracts and some full-text articles in over 100 history journals.
  • JSTOR : Peer reviewed journal articles on a wide range of Humanities subjects.
  • Project Muse: contains full text articles in over 50 scholarly history journals.
  • Los Angeles Times Historical: newspaper articles from 1881 to 1985. This database provides .pdf articles images of individual articles and the full page of the newspaper.

These indexes are not specifically history related, but they are very good for background or foundational information and on general subjects and current news :

  • Newspapers (Proquest): 150 local and international newspapers. It includes the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and London Times.
  • WilsonWeb Omni Full Text Mega: includes journals with information on a wide range of subject areas, including history and the social sciences.
  • Academic Search Premier : a multi-disciplinary database that can be used to search for articles in a wide range of subject areas.
  • Lexis-Nexis : Newspapers, magazines and journals on a wide range of topics.

Finding Quality Websites

When using information from the web for projects and research papers, you should evaluate the quality and reliability of the information. Remember, not all web sites are created equally. Some sites can be valid sources of information, but others are filled with opinion represented as fact. Here's a link to one of many websites which give you evaluation criteria: Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages. While there isn't a 100% effective way to figure out what kind of site you're looking at, here are some guidelines to follow when using the internet for research:

  • Check Credibility - Is it easy to figure out who's behind the information? Does whomever it is know what they're talking about? Do they have qualifications in the field or some other reason to be trust-worthy in it?
  • Check Accuracy - Are the sources cited well? Is the information up-to-date? Are there any broad, sweeping generalisations that are impossible to verify?
  • Check Reasonableness - What is the page's point-of-view? Is it a corporate page trying to sell you a product? Is it a government or educational site where the main purpose is to educate people?
  • Check Support - Is it possible to double-check the information in another location?

These are indexes to quality web sites that have been recommended by librarians. The sites have been checked for accuracy, timiliness, stabilty, and will generally conform to the standards of academic research. However, please be judicious in the use of websites in general, because anybody can put anything on the web.

  • Infomine (infomine.ucr.edu): A project from the Univeristy of California and other universities, it is a searchable index of websites specifically appropriate for university research. Click on SocSci & Humanities to search their specialized index.
  • ipL2:  : Index of websites reviewed by librarians, geared toward the general public. Choose a topic from the index or use Advanced Search to search for keywords.
  • The American Memory Project (lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/) is a collection of digitized documents, photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures and text from the Library of Congress Americana collections. There are over 70 collections included in the project. Go the the American Memory website and search a particular topic or browse through the collections.
  • CSUDH Online Reference Shelf : Web-based services and subscription resources evaluated by CSUDH librarians.
  • Evaluating Information on the Web: This is a very good checklist from the Pasadena City College Library for judging the quality of not only information on the Internet, but any information you may want to use for an assignment.

Citing Your Sources

What is plagiarism? - Plagiarism is "The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft." (OED)  In essence, when you quote or paraphrase from somebody else's work without citing it, you are plagiarizing their work. Plagiarism is a serious matter, and could result in a lower or failing grade and even in your expulsion from university. Just rewording your work isn't enough to avoid plagiarism. Since you are still borrowing information heavily from another writer, you still need to include a citation.

But I didn't know! - Ignorance of the law is unfortunately no excuse. You can commit plagiarism without meaning to, and it's just as serious a problem if you do.

How can I avoid it? - You can avoid plagiarism by always citing your sources. Whenever you put a quotation or borrow information heavily from a source, be sure you include a citation in the proper style. This will let your professor know you aren't trying to pass the idea off as your own. Taking detailed notes on where you get your information helps a lot with this, since it prevents you from forgetting which is your own work and which is borrowed from others.

When writing a paper or completing a project for a class, you will usually be asked to provide a bibliography of the materials that you used. There are several standard guides available in the Library to help you. In addition, the Internet is a good place to search for style manuals and guides. The CSUDH Library has a summary of the formats most commonly used posted on the Library website. Take a look at this guide in advance so you'll know what information you need to jot down before you begin your research. It may be more difficult to retrace your steps than to make bibliographic note cards as you are working on your project.

Library Guides
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