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History Research Guide: How to Search

Topic & Keywords

First, identify the key terms in your research topic or question:

How did social conditions contribute to the rise of fascism in Italy?

Then, brainstorm similar keywords or phrases that can be used in a search engine:

"social conditions" fascism Ital*
"post-war conditions" Mussolini  

Further Reading About Historical Research...

Research Tips

  • Only use words that add value to the search (don't type in full phrases or questions that include words like "are" or "the") 

  • “Truncating” words can help expand your search. Place an asterisk at the end of the root of the word:  Ital* will find Italy+ Italian 

  • Multi-word concepts, such as “political party”, need quotation marks to search the words as one phrase 

  • You can use three words called Boolean Operators to improve your search: AND, OR, NOT 

Primary Sources for Historical Research

In History, a primary source is a work, document or record created at the time of an event or by a person who directly witnessed or experienced that event. Primary sources are contemporary, first-hand accounts or descriptions of events, people, things or environments.

  • Examples:
    • diaries, photographs, letters, journals, newspaper articles
    • government documents (ex. census forms, military service records, school attendance records)
    • creative works (ex. songs, poems, paintings, novels).

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