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American History 1

Strategies and tips for locating resources for your research project.

What is a search strategy?

Developing a strong search strategy can save you time when it is time to search for resources.  Rather than doing general searching using Google, we recommend that you search using the library databases.  Searching Google is much different than searching library databases.

One facet of database searching that can be difficult to get used to is subject heading or keyword searches.  Rather than typing a question in and expecting instant results, users need to focus on identifying and using controlled language searches.

Identifying controlled language for subject headings and keywords is beneficial for the savvy researcher.  Controlled language is typically assigned by the Library of Congress and is then used universally (or at least in English) by vendors and publishers when identifying main points and ideas for their books, journals and other publications.

Once the controlled language for your topic is identified, database searching is usually much easier. 

Language used on websites by various entities can often be arbitrary and inconsistent.

Suggestions to Start With

Below is a partial list of the topics provided by Professor Weber along with the official subject heading that goes along with it, as well as other suggestions that might be helpful to get started with your searching.

Topic List Subject Heading
Andrew Jackson's Presidency

Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845

Presidents AND United States

United States. Indian Removal Act of 1830

Nullification (States’ rights)

Salem Witch Trials

Salem Village (Mass.)

Trials (Witchcraft)--MassachusettS--Salem--17th century.

Witchcraft AND Massachusetts AND Salem

Dred Scott Decision

Scott, Dred, 1809-1858

Slavery--United States-- Legal status of slaves in free states

Constitutional law AND United States

Native Americans in the Seven Years War
United States--History--French and Indian War, 1754-1763

Indians of North America

Five Nations OR Six Nations (use instead of Iroquois Confederacy)

Indians of North America--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775

Burning of Lawrence, Kansas

Lawrence Massacre, Lawrence, Kan., 1863

Kansas--History--Civil War, 1861-1865

Quantrill, William Clarke, 1837-1865

Antislavery movements


Monticello (Va.)

AND History

Jefferson, Thomas, 1732-1807


"Star Spangled Banner"

Flags--United States--Songs and music

Key, Francis Scott, 1779-1843

Star-spangled banner (Song)

National songs

"Paul Revere's Ride"

Revere, Paul, 1735-1818 AND Poetry

Lexington, Battle of, Lexington, Mass., 1775 Poetry

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882

"Battle Hymn of the Republic"

Battle hymn of the republic (Song)

Patriotic songs

Howe, Julia Ward, 1819-1910



Sailors AND United States AND History

Sailors AND Great Britain AND History


California Gold Rush

California AND Gold discoveries

Pioneers AND California

Gold mines and mining AND California

California History 1846-1850

John Wilkes Booth

Booth, John Wilkes, 1838-1865

Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 Assassination

United States--Politics and government 1861-1865

Fugitives from justice

If you need assistance understanding or locating subject headings for the topic you've selected, please stop in Dugan Library and ask one of our librarians!  We would love to help you get started!