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History Research Guide

Resources for research not limited to any particular course topic and tools to support history scholars.

Secondary Sources in the CSUSM Library

The Library's collections feature books and journals offering scholarly analysis of history.

As explained below, books are located using the Books and More search on the library home page. Journal articles may be located through specific databases or a broader search using the Articles+ search option.

During the Kellogg Library closure due to COVID-19, the instructions for book searching focuses on using the ebooks in our collection. if you are looking for a specific book or article and do not find it in digital format, CSUSM users are able to request the material using our Interlibrary Loan service.

Finding Books

The Library Catalog is the place to search first. Why? Because the librarian in collaboration with the History faculty has carefully selected most of the collection for quality and relevance to our disciplines. Some ebook titles come in packages so not every title is individually selected but the ebook vendors we deal with are chosen for the overall quality of the publishers they source titles from. 

See the video clip below on searching the library catalog and limiting to ebook format. Some titles will need the Overdrive Libby app downloaded and if you use the public library, you may already have this app installed. 

If you find something in our print collection--due concerns about everyone's safety, our print materials are not available for check out and sadly, the stacks are not open to browsing (a favorite pastime of historians.) Never fear! The library has put procedures in place to get what you need in digital versions for touch-free access whenever possible. Use the Request Access button in the book record and it will be mailed to your home or purchased in ebook form. 

This example book search is on womens suffrage in the United States.

Article databases

We have a robust collection of digital scholarly journals in a number of databases. Not every database in the collection is going to be useful for historical research but will give you something based on your search term! Save yourself time and effort by searching the most relevant/history-specific collections, you will be glad you did.

If you find an article is not offer a link to full text, look or the GET IT link to locate in another of our databases, or request through our Interlibrary Loan service.  We are committed to getting you what you need! 

Here are recommendations for where to start: 

Highest Recommendation due to content and special search features: 

America: History & Life covers United States history from the 15th century on. Canada and Mexico are included to a lesser extent. 

Historical Abstracts is the companion to America: History and Life, covering the rest of the world.


Also Useful: 

JSTOR has a large collection of history studies journals. In some cases, because there is content as far back as 1838, earlier articles might serve as primary sources. 

Project Muse has some titles that duplicate JSTOR but also has unique content not found elsewhere. 


Other databases to search with some history-focused content: 

Sage Journals Online Choose the Social Sciences & Humanities collection to focus your results.

Academic Search Ultimate Not all content will be scholarly or peer-reviewed, so you need to be selective. 

Wiley Online Library Scroll down to the Humanities group to focus on history journal results. 


Subject-focused databases may have some history-relevant content such as Women's Studies International, Art Full Text, and Communication and Mass Media Complete. Ask for assistance in narrowing your choices. 

Searching Article Databases

Much of the search demonstrated in the video is common to any database, but America: History and Life and Historical Abstracts have the additional search feature of limiting to historical period rather than publication date.