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Library Resources for HIST 498J The Cold War

Mary Stuart
History, Philosophy and Newspaper Librarian


I. Getting Started

Types of Sources

There are many ways to approach historical research, and you will probably need to use several strategies to find the material you need. As you begin formulating your thesis, you’ll want to identify the main currents of thought on your topic. Which historians have taken up this topic and what are their main arguments? How has our understanding of the subject changed with shifts in the predominant methodologies and theoretical perspectives in the historical profession? In answering these questions, you will use secondary sources, the published work of scholars specializing in the topic, which present their analysis or interpretation. This is also termed the secondary literature on the subject.

Secondary literature includes scholarly books, book chapters, articles, and essays (both analyses by contemporary scholars as well as older scholarly analyses), surveys, criticism, comparative studies, reference sources, and works on theory and methodology. When we talk about secondary sources, most of the time we are referring to the published scholarship on a subject, rather than the supplemental material (bibliographies, encyclopedias, handbooks, etc.). Secondary literature is published both in book form and as articles in periodicals, either in print or digital format. (Digital format includes both reproduction of print material online and original e-text.)

To identify secondary literature, you can do subject searches in the online catalog to find books or subject searches in article databases to find articles; article databases may list books as well as articles from journals. You can also consult standard published bibliographies (e.g., the American Historical Association Guide to Historical Literature) and specialized bibliographies (e.g., George F. Kennan: An Annotated Bibliography).

You can also look for review essays, in which a historian who specializes in the subject analyzes recent scholarship; you may find more lengthy historiographical treatments of the topic published as chapters in collections, journal articles, or even monographs; you can read about the topic in a subject encyclopedia and look at the bibliography at the end of the entry; and you can find a major work of scholarship on the topic and follow up on the sources used by the author (footnote tracking).

Most of the time you will find the secondary literature you need by using the online catalog, the appropriate article databases, and a subject encyclopedia or bibliography.

If you are doing original research, you will need to identify primary sources in addition to the secondary literature on the subject. These are sources produced at the time of the event or phenomenon you are investigating which purport to document it. Primary sources can be published or unpublished (archival).

Published primary source material covers a wide range of publications, including first-person accounts, memoirs, diaries, letters, newspapers, statistical reports, government documents, commentary in periodicals contemporaneous with the phenomenon you are investigating, reports of associations, organizations and institutions, maps, iconographic material (e.g., photographs, posters, advertising images, paintings, prints, and illustrations), literary works and motion pictures.

What constitutes a primary source depends in part on how you have formulated your research topic. You can find published primary sources by using the online catalog and published bibliographies. You can also look at secondary literature on your topic to see what sources other scholars have used in their research. There is nothing in the online catalog record for a book that indicates whether it is a primary or secondary source, and many sources, whether text or image, can serve as either primary or secondary sources. The key is how you use the material.

The UIUC Library has a wealth of primary source material pertaining to the Cold War. In a way, this library today ranks as one of the world’s great research libraries precisely because of the Cold War. Postwar funding in higher education facilitated investment in library resources generally, and in the wake of the Sputnik launch, federal money for acquisition of Russian and East European publications was abundant. As a consequence, UIUC has the largest Slavic collection in the country west of Washington, D.C., including a wide range of sources on the Cold War.

The UIUC Library also has some unpublished primary source material (archives and manuscripts), but this is a relatively small body of material compared to the abundance of published primary sources held by the Library. Most of the unpublished primary source material will be found in the University Archives, located in the basement of the main Library, or the Student Life and Culture Archive, located east of the President’s house on Florida Avenue in Urbana (1707 S. Orchard St.).

The University Archives, located in the basement of the main Library, houses the largest collection of historical manuscripts in Illinois. Both personal papers and organizational or institutional records are held in the University Archives. Examples include the papers of the journalist James B. Reston (reporter for the New York Times from 1939 to 1989), the papers of Avery Brundage, the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee (1929-52) and International Olympic Committee (1952-72), and the recently acquired papers of Leon Dash (reporter for the Washington Post from the 1960s to 1998, and a Peace Corps volunteer in Angola). Among the organizational archives held in the University Archives are the records of the Advertising Council, the agency established in 1942 as the War Advertising Council to build support for the war effort through public service advertising. (Last year a graduate assistant in the University Archives prepared an exhibit on the “People’s Capitalism” campaign conducted by the Advertising Council with the U.S. Information Agency in 1956.) More information is available about the holdings of the University Archives and the Student Life and Culture Archive at their web site (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/ahx). Contact Chris Prom, Assistant University Archivist, with questions at prom@uiuc.edu.

II. UIUC Online Catalog

Use the online catalog to do a subject search for books or to find out where a particular book or journal is located in the Library

Books and journals are organized in the library by subject. Each item is assigned one or more subject headings and a unique call number. Subject headings are standardized terms from the Library of Congress. The call number is based on the Dewey Decimal Classification.

Why bother with subject headings in the online catalog when you can do keyword searching?

It’s true that you can find sources on a topic by doing keyword searches. But if you limit yourself to keyword searching, you are likely to miss important material on your topic that uses other terms. If you only need two or three books, you can probably find what you need by doing keyword searches, but if you are doing historical research, you can’t afford to miss critical material on your topic. For a comprehensive subject search, search with subject headings as well as keywords.

A good way to identify subject headings for a topic is to do a keyword search in the online catalog using terms you think describe the topic and try to identify a few relevant books. Look at the full record for those books to see what subject headings were used, then do another search on those headings. (See examples below.)

As a rule of thumb, use fairly broad headings, as well as the specific ones that describe your topic, in order to make sure you haven’t inadvertently eliminated relevant material that is contained within works of larger scope. Most likely you will find multiple headings to describe your topic, and you should use all of them. You can narrow your search in the online catalog by combining subject headings (as a phrase) with keywords, using the “Advanced Search” option.

Here are some examples of subject headings relating to the cold war:

  • Cold War
  • Cold War-History
  • United States-Foreign relations-Soviet Union
  • United States-Relations-Soviet Union
  • Soviet Union-Foreign relations-United States
  • Soviet Union-Relations-United States
  • Soviet Union-Foreign relations-1945-1991
  • World politics-1945-1955
  • Disarmament
  • Military history-20th century
  • Europe-Politics and government-1945-
  • Nuclear arms control
  • Strategic Arms Limitations Talks
  • Arms control

Searching with subject headings does have its limitations. Not only are the subject headings highly stylized and idiosyncratic, the system (Library of Congress subject headings, or LCSH) is not particularly responsive to new scholarly trends. The entire field of inquiry known as the history of daily life is not captured with any precision by LCSH (Germany-Social life and customs is about as close as you can get).

Because of this limitation of subject headings, you may need to spend considerable time searching the online catalog to find books on your particular topic. Once you have identified a few relevant books, take note of the call numbers and try browsing the shelves in those ranges.

To search the online catalog, go to the Library Gateway (http://www.library.uiuc.edu) and click on “UIUC Library Online Catalog.”

The online catalog offers both “Quick Search” and “Advanced Search” options. Use “Advanced Search” to identify subject headings on your topic, to combine subject headings (or elements from subject headings) in a Boolean search, or to combine keywords from any part of the record with subject headings to narrow your search.

Do an Advanced Search on the terms “containment” and “Soviet” to find books on this topic. (“Containment” is not a Library of Congress subject heading.) Then look at the subject headings in your results (United States-Foreign relations-Soviet Union, for example) and do a Quick Search on those subject headings to find more books on the topic.

Do an Advanced Search on the keyword phrase “cold war diplomacy.” Or try an Advanced Search combining the keyword “deterrence” with the term “Europe.”

Do an Advanced Search when you know part of the title (e.g., “raising the Iron Curtain”) but are not certain of the exact title. Use the drop-down menu on the right and select “Title Words.”

Use “Quick Search” to browse a subject heading (e.g., “Cold War-History”), to search a title when you know exactly how it begins (e.g., In Confidence), to locate a work or works by a particular author (e.g., John Gaddis), or to search by call number for a specific book (e.g., 327.730092 G197g).

Borrowing from other libraries

If you are looking for a book that is not in the UIUC Library online catalog, try searching the state-wide consortium of academic and research libraries, I-Share. The link to I-Share can be found on the blue bar across the top of the “Quick Search” and “Advanced Search” pages in the online catalog. You can borrow directly from any of the sixty-five I-Share member libraries. If you cannot find the book you are looking for in I-Share, you should search it in WorldCat to see if it is available outside the state of Illinois. From the Library Gateway (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/index.html), click on “Other Library Catalogs” and scroll down to the listing for WorldCat. This is a “union catalog” of thousands of mostly North American libraries that share cataloging and holdings records for the books in their collections. If you find a book in WorldCat that we do not have at UIUC or at the other I-Share libraries, you can place a request for the book through interlibrary borrowing (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/irrc/)

III. Finding Scholarly Articles

The two main article databases for history are Historical Abstracts and America: History and Life. One or the other of these databases is usually the best starting place to search for scholarly articles in English on topics in history. America: History and Life covers articles, book reviews, and dissertations on all periods of North American history published since 1964, and in some cases it provides links to the full text of the articles online. Historical Abstracts covers articles, book reviews, and dissertations published since 1954 on all aspects of world history, excluding North America, from 1450 to the present. To search these databases, start at the Library Gateway (http://www.library.uiuc.edu), choose “Online Research Resources,” and type “America History and Life” or “Historical Abstracts” in the search box (making sure that the active tab is either “All Resources” or “Article Indexes and Abstracts”).

Use the Subject Browser in these databases to select your subject term(s) by clicking on the open book icon to the right of the search box. You can narrow your search by adding a keyword or using more than one subject term. For example, in Historical Abstracts select “Cold War” as a subject term using the Subject Browser, then browse through the results, or try narrowing your search with a keyword (e.g., “music”). Your search results display as short records, which you can expand by clicking on “Expand Record” at the bottom of the record on the right. The full entry shows you an abstract or summary of the article. Click on the blue Discover icon to find out if the full text of the article is available online. If it is not, you will need to search the title of the journal in the UIUC online catalog to learn where the print copy of the journal is located in the Library.

There are several major collections of full-text electronic journals that you can search directly. For older journals, use JSTOR (“journal storage”). This is a digitized, fully searchable version of the full content of nearly 200 scholarly journals from their inception (sometimes as early as the 18th century) to the 1990s (recent issues excluded). To get to JSTOR, go to the “Quick Links” on the History and Philosophy Library web site, or go to the Library Gateway at http://www.library.uiuc.edu/orr/ and type JSTOR in the search box. Several major historical journals are included in JSTOR, such as Journal of American History, Journal of Modern History, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Russian Review, Journal of Military History, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Journal of Modern African Studies, French Historical Studies, English Historical Review, and Past and Present.

Because JSTOR is a collection of digitized texts rather than an abstracting/indexing service (and does not employ subject descriptors), careful selection of search terms and fields is essential. In the absence of subject headings, subject searches are built on keywords, so it is prudent to try several different approaches for any given topic. Note that only about 10% of the articles in JSTOR have abstracts, so limiting your search term to the abstracts might cause you to miss relevant material. When a Boolean keyword search produces a large set of results, try using the proximity (“near”) operator to limit the results to a combination of terms occuring within 10 or 25 words of one another.

For the full text of many (nearly 200) recent scholarly journals, use Project Muse. These too are fully searchable. In most cases, only the issues from the last few years are available. Here you will find Journal of Cold War Studies, History and Memory, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Radical History Review, Journal of Women’s History, Journal of Military History, World Politics, French Historical Studies, and several other titles of interest. To get to Project Muse, go to the “Quick Links” on the History and Philosophy Library web site, or go to the Library Gateway at http://www.library.uiuc.edu/ and choose Project Muse under “Electronic Journals.”

The full text of recent issues of twenty scholarly journals in history is available through the History Cooperative, a joint project of the University of Illinois Press, National Academy Press, American Historical Association, and the Organization of American Historians. This includes the Journal of American History and American Historical Review, Law and History Review, Oral History Review, Journal of Social History, Common-place, Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Labour History, and Labour/Le Travail). To get to the History Cooperative, go to the “Quick Links” on the History and Philosophy Library web site, or go to the Library Gateway, click on “Online Research Resources,” and type “History Cooperative” in the search box.

IV. Finding Newspaper Articles

Finding Newspapers in the Library:

The UIUC Library has an extensive collection of newspapers, both current and retrospective, in a variety of formats, including hard copy, microfilm, and digital reproductions. Not all of them are included in the online catalog, but if you are looking for a particular newspaper title, try searching it first in the online catalog. Look for more than one record for each newspaper, as our holdings may consist of a combination of hard copy and microfilm, for example, and there may be a separate catalog record for each format. Most of these will be located in the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library, but in some cases, the material will be found in another part of the UIUC Library.

If you want to search for newspapers by place of publication, use the Library’s separate online database of newspapers (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/nex/newsform.php). This database is searchable by keywords from the title and by country, state, or city of publication.

Newspapers on microfilm are shelved in the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library stacks. The film is arranged in Dewey Decimal order, which is geographical by country and state. We have microfilm reader-printers and view-scanners in the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library. If you need help finding a newspaper or using the equipment, the staff in HPNL will be happy to help you.

Newspapers Online

We have access to the full text of the New York Times online from 1857 to the present, the Wall Street Journal from 1889 to 1985, and the Chicago Tribune from 1849 to the present (still in production, 1849-1879 not yet available). Among foreign newspapers, we have access to the full text of the Times (London) from its inception in 1785. These are digital facsimiles of the originals and are keyword searchable. From the Online Research Resources page (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/orr/), type the title of the newspaper in the search box. Although retrospective files of other major metropolitan dailies (such as the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Constitution, and Boston Globe) have been digitized, the UIUC Library does not yet have access to them, and our online access to these newspapers generally goes back only to the mid-1980s.

Finding articles in newspapers:

For newspapers that have not been digitized, article-level indexing is limited, particularly before the 1970s. The digital versions of the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Wall Street Journal, are fully searchable, so you don’t need a separate index to use them. You can use these newspapers to pinpoint dates of coverage of events, then look at other, unindexed newspapers on microfilm around the same dates.

Most print newspaper indexes begin around 1970 or later, and few of these are online before 1990. The print (or paper) index for the Washington Post begins in 1971 and for the Los Angeles Times in 1972; these are located in the Library’s remote storage facility (and can be sent to the main Library upon request). There is an index for the Chicago Defender and several other African American newspapers that begins with 1977 (Index to Black Newspapers, 016.0713 In2 and 016.0713 In21, located in the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library). Note that the print version of the Alternative Press Index (located in the Undergraduate Library) goes back to 1969, whereas the online version starts with 1991. For more recent newspapers, online abstracting and indexing for some major and regional papers is available through Lexis-Nexis, Newsbank, and EBSCO Host (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/orr/, “Journals & Newspapers”).

© 2006 Mary Stuart