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History: Find Books

A guide to doing history research at Bonnie Bell Wardman Library.

About this page

This page is divided into four sections:

  • The library catalog, intended primarily for researchers seeking books about a particular subject.
  • LINK+, which describes how to acquire a book not held by Wardman Library.
  • The Library of American Civilization, which describes how to access free, digitized versions of some 4,500 books from colonial and early republican America through World War I.
  • Google Books and the Internet Archive, which describes how to access two online repositories that comprise several millions of books, many of which are available in their entirety.

The Library of Congress has designated several letters to indicate major divisions in history, with double letters denoting more specific categories (e.g. DS - Asia):

  • C - Auxiliary sciences of history
  • D - History (World history, history of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, etc)
  • E - History (Western hemisphere, e.g. America and the United States)
  • F - History (Latin America, Canada, other parts of Western hemisphere)

Google Book Search

Use Google Book Search to discover additional books addressing your topic (full-text keyword search).

Google Book Search

The library catalog, or searching for books relevant to a research topic

Presuming a researcher knows the title or author of the book she is seeking, searching within the catalog is a simple matter -- she will simply type one or more of these terms in the catalog's search field, where the default search is "Simple Keywords," or use the dropdown menu to select a different search category (in this case, "Title" or "Author").

Finding relevant books for a topic about the researcher knows little is slightly more complicated, but following these steps is a good start:

  • Click here for the library's catalog. (Or, from the library's homepage, click on LIBRARY CATALOG at the top of the second column, under the RESEARCH TOOLS heading.)
  • Start your search with "Simple Keywords" (again, the catalog default).
  • Use words and phrases you think might describe the information you want.
    • N.B. Remember, using synonyms is a simple way to increase the information you retrieve. To take an example from another discipline, if we were interested in the mating habits of giant squid, we would certainly conduct a search using "mating" and "giant squid," but we might also try "reproduction," "sex," "architeuthis" (the giant squid genus), and "cephalopod" (the giant squid class).
  • From the results list, look at the full description of items of interest. Note the Library of Congress (LC) SUBJECT line of the record to see the assigned subject headings.
  • Click on subject headings that look especially relevant; the catalog lists other books described by these headings.

Once you've found one or two books that look promising for your research, an additional way to find similar works is to click on the book's call number, which will place the book in an ascending list of the books around it -- the books with call numbers closest to your book will take up similar subjects.

Researchers should also remember to browse around a book in the stacks. As books are arranged by subject according to LC subject classifications, the books physically closest to a book in which you are interested may be germane to your topic.


Finding Books the Library Doesn't Own

LINK+ is a consortium of over 50 public and academic libraries in California and Nevada. Whittier College patrons can electronically request an item not available in Wardman Library and have it is delivered to them in 2-4 days. The service is free and extremely convenient. The loan period is 21 days with one renewal. Go to our Link+ page to get started and follow the prompts below:

  • Search for the book by Title, Keyword, Subject etc. and select “Submit.”
  • If your title is available you will be able to select “Request this Item.”
  • Follow the prompts to enter your name and barcode number located on the back of your student ID.
  • Items arrive in the library in about 2 to 4 days and will be held for up to 10 days. The loan period is 21 days with one renewal. The late fees are $1/day. 

If the item you are searching for is not available through LINK+, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan.

Library of American Civilization

The Library of American Civilization (LAC) is a collection of 4,500 books, pamphlets, and periodicals, most of which are out-of-print, that take up "aspects of American life and literature from their beginnings to the outbreak of World War I." Catalogers at the Arnold Bernhard Library at Quinnipac University have linked records from the LAC (which was once available only on a format called "ultrafiche") to the now-digitized versions of these texts.

To search, enter your search term in the window at the top of the screen after the jump; to view one of the titles in the LAC, click on the "View this e-book" link associated with each record:

Library of American Civilization (LAC) e-books via the Arnold Bernhard Library

Google Books and the Internet Archive

Google Book Search (below) and the Internet Archive include nearly ten million volumes, with full-text searching capabilities.  Full-text searching means researchers can discover books using key words and phrases within the text, instead of having to rely on titles, authors, or subject terms as in library catalogs. 

Many of the books in Google Book Search and the Internet Archive (and especially those with older copyrights) are available online in their entirety; others are partially readable online, but in many cases, relevant pages will be viewable.


Google Book Search