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American Minorities

Strategies & 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.

Help with Subject Headings

The various research topics that have been assigned for this class are very topical and current.  Most in-depth research articles and books take anywhere from several months to several years to be researched and published.  More popular resources, such as news and magazine articles, websites, blogs and other types of social media are a constant source of new information and misinformation.

Depending on the focus of the particular assignment or paper that you are working to complete, you may want to consider the different sources of information that you want to include and how credible each source might be.  Research databases and books will be great sources for understanding the suffrage movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States, as well as information on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's and Martin Luther King, Jr.  It will be challenging to find high quality, well-researched articles and books regarding BLM and the most recent presidential election.

What you will find are lots of news and opinions about both, you will find them in the databases as well as by doing a Google search to locate news, blogs, and other websites.  

If you opt to search using the databases, you may consider using subject headings as well as keywords to search. Here are a few samples of subject headings that you may consider using:

*Fortunately, the process of introducing and using new subject headings is a continual process, so you can use those terms right away!

Some subject headings to get you started:


  • Selma to Montgomery Rights March (1965 : Selma, Ala.)
  • King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Black Lives Matter:

  • Black lives matter movement
  • Civil rights
  • Race relations


  • Women, suffrage
  • Minorities, suffrage
  • Sex discrimination


  • Sexual orientation (this can be much more specific, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, etc.)
  • Homophobia OR Discrimination
  • AIDS (Disease) OR HIV infections

Enrique's Journey: