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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

History 591P: History Writing and Political Engagement

guide for students in Sigrid Schmalzer's writing-intensive class on history writing and political engagement.

Major Databases

The full list of databases subscribed to by UMass Amherst includes over 300 titles. You can see the full list by clicking on the Databases page and then Find Database by Name/List All link. But, if you find that list intimidating, look at the recommendations by subject - such as history - or by material type (look at the bottom of the page) for newspapers, data, media. 

If you want to use Google Scholar, remember to connect through the UMass Database webpage or here so that you can get authenticated access to the e-journals.

Searching for books

It can be tricky to search library catalogs. Either you do a keyword search and end up with thousands  (or tens of thousands of hits) or you try to use Title begins with or Subject begins with and end up with nothing. The easiest way to do a successful search is to use Title keywords or Subject keywords as a starting point, then look at the subject headings and call numbers provided. Clicking on the subject headings will show you other books on the same topic. Looking at the physical shelves or browsing virtual shelves by call number will do the same thing.

Please remember that the Five College Catalog will really only let you search at the top level - titles of books, titles of journals, titles of DVDs... It will not let you look inside at the actual contents. For that you need to use other discovery tools. UMass Worldcat provides a search interface for the contents of the library catalog PLUS some of the major databases like Academic Search Premier. See the Search guide for help.

Google Scholar - if you access it through the Library Database page or a Library subject guide - will let you access the full-text articles in databases that we subscribe to. It can be a handy way of beginning a research project in order to find out what kinds of materials are being published where. But you should always follow up with a check of other indexes such as Historical Abstracts.The UMass Librarians have published a set of tips to help you search Google Scholar more effectively.