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HIST 469 World War II in the Pacific

Feeling overwhelmed? Try these...

Some overall tips on searching:

First, brainstorm!

  • What are you trying to demonstrate? What pieces of evidence will help you to demonstrate your point/argument? The more targeted you can make your search, the less overwhelming it will be. These targeted searches should eventually lead you to more ways to expand upon your topic (so don’t worry about being too narrow!).
  • Brainstorm keywords OF THE TIME. 
    • Example: If you are searching for newspaper articles that were written during WWI, you will not search WWI, as it was not called this until after we had WWII; you should instead search things like “Great War.”
    • Some of this language might be considered offensive today.

Look in published materials/secondary sources (books, scholarly articles, etc.). Check for:

  • Images (photos, scans of documents, etc.)
  • Footnotes/references

Use the magical Internet.

  • Google things: see what you come up with, but be very critical (try to trace things back to a reputable repository). This is good to perhaps gather additional keywords, see what others are writing on this topic, etc.
    • Make sure that these primary sources are coming from reputable sources (but even still, look at them with a critical eye). Lots of websites post “primary sources” but if you don’t know who did it, they could alter the documents. One way to do this is through an advanced Google search, using your keywords and the command site:.edu (which will only search colleges and universities). You could also try site:.org, but these are not always reputable.
  • Discover curated lists of sources (they did some work for you!)
    • Example from Digital Collections list at left: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/ww2.htm
  • Check the larger repositories/centers. (National archives, presidential libraries, government entities). These can help with very targeted searches and often times have collections digitized. They also place documents into their larger context/meaning, doing some of this work for you.
    • Archives.gov
    • Smithsonian.org
    • Loc.gov
    • Govinfo.gov
    • trumanlibrary.gov
  • Check the websites of the organizations you are researching.
    • Example, Navy: https://www.history.navy.mil/research/archives.html
  • Use archival collection search systems to search across institutions for possible collections about your topic.
  • Use free encyclopedia databases (e.g. wikipedia, encyclopedia.com) to trace source lists.

Use library databases (we do some of the evaluating work for you). Links to the left!

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us