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HIST 301: Research Methods - Hijar

HIST 301 Getting Started Hijar

HIST 301 - Getting Started - Hijar

Professor Hijar has given you a great deal of latitude on your topic, but does have high expectations of what you will use in researching that topic. These pages are to help you to find the best with the least amount of time and effort:


History research is NOT a book report on what has been said are looking for a question that doesn't seem to have been answered. This establishes a place for you to shine by adding to the body of historical studies.

This can be challenging, but as our interpretations of our past continually change in light of modern thinking and new discoveries, there are plenty of topics to explore!

While you are exploring, keep an open mind and do not 'lock' your thesis to start. This flexibility will come in very handy.


Analyze the source material you need. Books, articles, newspapers, photos, diaries, government publications? there is wide variety of materials, but remember primary sources are of primary importance to you! (yes, that was deliberate.)

Primary sources can be letters, diaries, contemporary newspaper reports, maps or other first-person accounts and evidence. These are generated AT THE TIME of the event or era.

Secondary sources are articles and books that examine a number of works to create an argument and text. Secondary sources are written years AFTER the event or time period and through differing social lenses. Check the sources used to make sure the source material was primary sources and not a re-hash of secondary work.

Ask yourself: What is available to me to inform and support my research? If you cannot find enough primary evidence due to issues such as access, language, or scarcity, it is time to re-think your topic.

Identify where to locate what you need. Is it in the book collection, newspaper databases, or an image collection? In looking at secondary sources, might there be appendices to provide you with some of what you need? Which databases will provide the relevant sources?

Collect tools that will help you organize your resources, such as Zotero. An additional tool to help you with word use is the Oxford English Dictionary, found in the CSUSM Databases collection.


Do not wait to start!

Collect your research in print or electronic format. After finding a few pieces, start sorting into folders or topic collections. This will help you see themes and potential questions to drive your thesis.

Secondary Sources

HIST 430 Secondary Articles Hijar


Articles will generally be secondary source resources and there are a lot of them!

Searching for articles requires that you put a bit more effort into your search. Here's why:

  • No one database will give you access to everything you need.
  • Database content is based on licensing agreements between vendors and publishers and whether you get full text or only an abstract is part of the agreement.
  • If you use the Articles+ search on the library home page that may seem like the ideal solution as you you are combing through many databases at one time.
  • Problem is, this searches only full text databases and it will be likely most results are irrelevant material mixed with the 'good stuff'.
  • Experienced researchers use specific databases instead. They may have to search a couple of different collections, but they will save time and frustration in the long run by getting highly relevant results. 
  • If you do not see full text, CSUSM has set up the results to enable you to quickly find or request the full text.


A search on women in the work force following World War II uses the terms: women "United States" 1945 in several search tools:

Articles+ (all full text databases)=4,345 results covering suicide, health, childbirth...looking at the first page I see nothing relevant to my research (as well as not being focused post-WWII).

JSTOR (one of our most popular general databases)=69,140 full text results, again all over the place in topic and time period.

America History and Life (US history-specific)=71 results, some are full text, others I may have to request. Many address during during WWII, not after the war, but this database offers a convenient date period tool that will allow me to refine my search to the period after WWII.

Google Scholar (a very mixed bag of articles, unpublished papers and more)=over 1.5 MILLION hits, again the time period is WWII as well as after and I have the added aggravation of not being able to access much of what I see or easily order, such as this hit which looks interesting and has been cited in other works:

Where do you think I would recommend to begin the search? AMERICA: HISTORY AND LIFE! Why create more work in poor result sets when I can start in a focused resource and expand if necessary?


HIST 430 Secondary Books Hijar


Any well researched paper uses scholarly books to support the thesis and arguments. Many will count as secondary sources for history research.

Reference Books
These are works like encyclopedias, directories, and collections of reviews. They may be quick overviews or in-depth studies and can help you in developing ideas on topics or a focus on a topic. Many will provide bibliographies leading you to both primary and secondary sources.

  • Encyclopedia of American Social Movements 5th Floor Oversized  HN57 .E594 2004
  • New Historical Atlas of Religion in America 5th Floor Oversized G1201.E4 N4 2000
  • The ABC-CLIO Companion to American Reconstruction, 1862-1877  E668 .R53 1996
  • Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad  E450 .H855 2006

Circulating Books (check out and take home or access online)
May be secondary, primary or mixed-source content (dependent on your research needs!)

  • In-depth studies on one topic
  • May be collections of primary sources with explanatory text (that counts as secondary)
  • Provides bibliographies to original sources and archives and relevant secondary literature

Books at Cal State San Marcos

Start your search in BOOKS & MORE by typing your topic in the KEYWORD search option.

This will return a list of book titles (as well as videos, slides) for you to browse.

When you find an item that looks relevant, click on the title for more information.

Especially useful on the item's record will be SUBJECTS which describe the content of the item and will link like items together.


You are researching the employment of American women outside the home following World War II:

Strategize your keywords. Which are most appropriate or scholarly to get you the best results?

American/United States


WWII/post-World War/1945


The choices you make will make a huge difference in what you discover. I used Women, "United States", 1945. If I get too many results, I can add terms like labor or employment to narrow my results even more.

I got 406 hits, so could have added labor or employment or working as additional terms. Here is a likely source to start...



Primary Sources

HIST 430 Primary Hijar

CSUSM works to provide a variety of primary source materials through print and electronic access. The internet also can provide primary source collections, in many cases thanks to universities and museums digitizing their collections.

The trick is to know where to look and how to evaluate whether something is authentic. That can take some practice, but do not hesitate to ask for help from your professor and librarian!

Here are some great places to start:

Library Catalog--there are primary sources in book and manuscript form in our collection. Some are hard copy, others digital.

CSUSM Databases--Check the Primary Source Databases list. Not all will be of use in studying your history topic, but this page gathers the most useful databases for primary source exploration.

Internet Sources--this is just a sampling

  • American Memory (Library of Congress) offers documents, photos, maps and much much more
  • Avalon Project (Yale University) for legal documents through the centuries
  • British History Online (Institute of Historical Research and Parliament) focuses on 1300-1800
  • EuroDocs (Brigham Young University) browse or search prehistoric through current collections.
  • Gallica (National Library of France) while a bit tricky to navigate, there is a wealth of primary digitized documents in this site and interestingly enough, a number of US documents on Native Americans.
  • Hansard (British Parlimentary Records)
  • Hathi Trust is a collection of digitized documents and books from some of the major libraries of the world. Much is freely available thorugh public domain.
  • Internet Archive Volunteers contribute a wide variety of film, document and other media
  • Internet Modern History Sourcebook (Fordham University) offers a mix of primary and secondary sources, all vetted under the leadership of Professor Paul Halsal.


Newspapers as Primary Sources

Newspapers are one of the best primary source collections for many topics, but should not be considered scholarly or impartial.
These serve as a reflection of popular thinking and exhibit strong biases based on editorial policies.

This page is devoted to historical newspaper sources. All newspapers (current or historical) that are available in full text at CSUSM in either paper, microfilm or electronic format can be located by a search in the library catalog.


When you consider that newsprint has an approximate shelf-life of 50 years, that explains why so many older newspapers are found on microfilm (shelf-life of 200 years.) Knowing this doesn't make microfilm easier to use, but here at CSUSM, we have indexes to the newspapers when available and have installed microfilm reader-printers that will allow you to scan and save the page you are viewing to your H drive, dropbox, zotero, or email page scans to yourself. As we can, we are adding newspapers in digital form to our collections and those will be found in the database collections.


You can search specific titles of major newspapers from the database list (New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Times (London), and the San Diego Union each have individual archival collections.)

For a more general search, type your research topic (keep it simple) in the Articles+ search box and limit the results to "newspaper articles". This is going to return articles published from a variety of time periods and publications, but you have tools to narrow your results to the left of the results list.

What newspapers do we have?

It is best to have a newspaper title, but if you do not, you can try the word newspaper with a city name, topic or ask the librarian for help!

If you are interested in certain types or geographic divisions of papers, you can do a subject search on 'newspapers' and look through the available subdivisions that reflect more focused topics.  Here are some examples of subject headings and sub-headings:

Research in other historical newspaper requires access to backfiles (the term used for older issues) and likely you need to go to a newspaper 'morgue' for hard copies. These may be at a library or a local historical society located in the area you are researching. Many newspapers are not yet indexed or digitized and will require consultation with a librarian or history expert to locate pertinent materials.

CSUSM Holdings of notable titles Print/microfilm/electronic

We have the following titles, with hard copies and microfilm on the 4th floor of the Kellogg Library. For papers without extensive archives, contact information has been posted for possible archival access.

Los Angeles Times (1881- on)
Archival Collection Online: Los Angeles Times (1881-1988)
Print: Latest in paper, older issues in the Microfilm Collection F-2
Current issues: ProQuest Direct

New York Times (1851-on)
Archival Collection Online: New York Times Historical Collection (1851-2008)
Print: Latest in paper, older issues in the Microfilm Collection F-3. NON-CSUSM users--You can use the NYT archives search to access free full text (prior to 1923) or use the citation information to access the article in our microfilm collection.
Current issues: ProQuest Direct

San Diego Union Tribune (1871-on) Note this title has changed several times over the years.
Archival Collection Online: 1872-1983  San Diego Union Newspaper Archive 
Print: Latest in paper, older issues in the Microfilm Collection F-1
Current issues: from February 2, 1992 in ProQuest Direct

See also: Lower California Frontier: Articles from the San Diego Union, 1870, (book) edited by Florence C. Shipek located in 4th floor Stacks at F1246 .S2  V.2 This provides selected articles from the Union published in 1870 prior to the microfilm series.

North County Times (San Marcos city edition)
Print: Latest 2 months in paper
Business Office: 207 Pennsylvania Ave. Escondido, CA 92025    (760) 745-6611  

San Diego Voice and Viewpoint 
Print: Latest 2 months in paper
Business Office: 1729 N. Euclid Ave. San Diego, CA 92105   (619) 266-2233  

Wall Street Journal (1980-on)
Latest in paper, older issues in the Microfilm Collection F-4
Current issues: from 1984-on in ProQuest Direct

Irish Times
Microfilm Collection F-144 for years 1916-1988 (some gaps)
1995-on in ProQuest Direct or Factiva

Times (London)
Archival Collection Online: Times (London) digital archive 1785-1985

Collections (multiple titles in one resource)

Early American Newspapers
Microfilm Collection F-47

America's Historical Newspapers, (1690-1998

Ethnic NewsWatch 1992-current

America's Historical Newspapers (includes subsets that may be searched individually)

Online with free full text

Older California newspapers are available in the  California Digital Newspaper Collection. Titles include The Californian (first California newspaper in 1846) and regional titles. 

Chronicling America at the Library of Congress is the clearing house for the National Digital Newspaper Program. The California Digital Newspaper Project is a part of this nation-wide effort.

Penn State's Historical Newspapers Online is a very comprehensive and detailed listing of full-text historical US newspapers.

News Archives for US papers is an assortment of papers and sources for browsing

Elephind provides a list of a number of large free access digitized newspaper collections.

Foreign Newspaper Archives (examples)

Mexico Hemeroteca Nacional Digital de Mexico 1722-2006 (note, not all are available open access and all materials are in Spanish)

Ireland Belfast Newsletter Index 1737-1800 An index to the early years of the oldest continually-published English-language newspaper.

Canada Saskatchewan News Index 1884-2000 Index to newspapers from the region. A limited number of full-text articles are also available.

Australia TROVE: Digitised Newspapers and More

Focused Interest Archives (examples)

Union List of Digitized Jewish Historic Newspapers, Periodical and E-journals 1811-2018 with the bulk of titles early 20th Century,  many titles are in German or other non-English languages and some titles listed are accessed only through subscription.

Catholic News Archive 1831-1978

Hoji Shinbun Digital Collection -- Japanese Diaspora Initiative 1891-1938, titles in English and Japanese, published in Hawai'i and the Americas. 

Full Text Print (Local availability)


The major universities in San Diego County all have historical newspaper collections. Titles and date ranges can be browsed through their online catalogs or the joint catalog system, CIRCUIT.

Public Libraries

San Diego County Library System AND San Diego Public Library have historical newspaper collections. Titles and date ranges can be browsed through their online catalogs or the joint catalog system, CIRCUIT.

Check city libraries (Carlsbad, Oceanside, etc.) as they are not members of the county or SD Public system, so have separate online catalogs.

Historical Societies

San Diego History Center has a list of titles with larger runs. An article from the Journal of San Diego History at discusses historical newspapers and their use.



Indexes do not provide full-text to the articles, but act as a directory to tell you when an article was written addressing your research topic. Even weekly newspapers have so many different articles is one issue and cover so many topics in one issue, it is difficult to locate the desired information unless you have a specific citation. Indexes provide a faster means to your information goal as opposed to guessing at a date and browsing the issues.

Some papers have print or digital indexes. Please refer to the guide for Newspapers for more information or consult the librarian.


Citing Sources in Chicago Style

Chicago Citation Style

Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide

Library Copies (Z253 .U69) (kept at Permanent Reserves) We now have the Manual online as well through the library catalog.

What's New in the 17th Edition

The Chicago Manual of Style is the stylistic and citator preference for most history researchers, but always check with your professor before proceeding on both citation style and which system. The Notes-Bibliography system is generally preferred in history publications, but there is also an Author-Date system. These systems use different formatting, so be sure which your professor prefers.

IMPORTANT! Recently, the University of Chicago Press issued a new edition for this style. Check your resources such as automated citation generators to make sure you are being given the latest information based on the 17th edition as not all sites have updated yet.

Chicago may be referred to as Turabian, after Kate Turabian, who wrote a manual for students for research, writing and citing sources based on the Chicago citation style. The current version is titled A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers. The CSUSM library keeps a copy at the Research Help Desk at LB2369 .T8 2007 and a copy on permanent Reserves (Checkout Desk.)

Some additional helpful web sites:

Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition (OWL at Purdue)

Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide for Government Documents From Bowdoin College, this guide uses the 15th edition as the 17th is not as comprehensive on government citations.

Legal Citations Using Chicago

For a summary of the Chicago style of citation for legal citations, please refer to the Chicago Manual of Style 17th ed. Chapter 14, sections 269-280 for legal materials and sections 281-292 for US Government pubiications.

There are a number of in depth publications on legal citations.

  • Cornell University's "Introduction to Basic Legal Citation" is freely available on the internet.
  • "The Blue Book" addresses this type of citation in great depth and is considered the authority. We have the 2010 edition.
  • "The Maroon Book" by  the students at the University of Chicago Law School challenges the Blue Book rules and is not considered authoritative.

Keep in mind there are specific rules for providing the legislative or case number and you will need to use the published or 'formal' title, although there may be more popular common references.

The Library of Congress has provided a simple site with examples for referencing US Congressional documents "Citation Guide".

Need Help?

Judith A. Downie

Special Collections and History Librarian
Judith A. Downie
760-750-4374 OR 760-750-4312 (Archives)
Office Location: 
KEL 5010
Office Hours: 
By Appointment