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Information Resources and Services for:
HIST 214: The Mississippi River in U.S. History

Fall Semester, 2006

Either singly or in groups of two or three, you will research a topic drawn from the list Professor Byman has provided. Your research will be based on materials available in the Krueger Library (or provided to you via the Interlibrary Loan Service). You should use appropriate sources (either primary or seconday). Your secondary sources should be scholarly in nature. While the reseach may be done in groups, each student will write a paper. You should use the "Chicago Manual of Style" 14th edition, (REF PN147.U69 1993) or "A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations" by Kate Turabian (REF PN147.T8 1996).

Regardless of the topic you have chosen, the process each of you will follow to identify substantial resources will be quite similar. Initially you will need to find those finding aids (indexes/abstracting services, bibliographies, specialized encyclopedias) that will identify scholarly materials that may be important to your research. Having done that, you will then need to acquire this material. Keep in mind that in most cases the book or article that you find will, in turn, lead you to other books or articles. While this is not a complicated process, it is important that you do it systematically and thoroughly, otherwise you will find yourself repeating steps and your research project can quickly become frustrating and unecessarily difficult.

Teaching Faculty: Mariana Byman

Table of Contents:

In the library's Reference Collection you will find any number of specialized resources (encyclopedias, handbooks, guides, etc) that will not only help you refine your topic but will get you on your way to identifying relevant primary resources. Below, I have listed examples.
  • The American Historical Association's Guide to Historical Literature
    This two volume set is an essential resource for identifying critical scholarly material on historical topics. The editors have attempted to identify the "...finest and most useful books and articles available in every field of historical scholarship." The editors add that the "Guide" provides "...a critical overview of the best contemporary historical scholarship."
    • Location(s): Ref Z 6201.A55
  • Harvard Guide to American History
    Dated but still useful guide to published materials relating to all aspect of American history. Particularly helpful in identifying key individuals associated with events or time periods.
    • Location(s): Ref Z1236.F77
  • Harvard Guide to African-American History
    • Location(s): Ref E185.H326 2001
  • Encyclopedia of the New American Nation: the emergence of the United States, 1754-1829
    If your topic falls within this time period, have a look at this three volume set.
    • Location(s): REF E301.E53 2006
  • Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: a Political, Social, and Military History
    • Location(s): Ref E468.E53 2000
  • Encyclopedia of Southern Culture
    This one volume encyclopedia is organized by broad topic or theme. It is one of the best written and most provocative approaches to the sweep of southern history in our library. Superb source to develop a topic, excellent recommendations for further reading.
    • Location(s): REF F209.E53
  • The New Encylopedia of the American West
    Has several entries on the Mississippi River and related subjects (including the Franch and Spanish periods).
    • Location(s): REF F591.N46 1998
  • Archaeology of Prehistoric Native America: an Encyclopedia
    Authorative resource for those who are interested in early indigenous communities.
    • Location(s): REF E77.9.A72 1998
  • Literature of Travel and Exploration: an Encyclopedia
    See Mississippi River in volume 2 (pp. 801-802) for a bit of a narrative plus a listing of significant travel narratives. See individual entries for explorers as well.
    • Location(s): REF G465.L565 2003
  • A Classified Bibliography of the Periodical Literature of the Trans-Mississippi West, 1811-1957
    This index has its limitations. It focuses on only articles concerning the area west of the Mississippi coverning the period between 1811 and 1957 (the book itself was published in 1961). However, it is exhaustive (over 9200 citations) and indexes many historical journals that are ignored by commercial indexes. Definitely worth a look.
    • Location(s): Ref Z1251.W5 W53
  • What is a citation?
    If you are uncertain as to what makes up a citation to a book or an article, click on the above link for a brief explanation with examples.
  • Searching for known items
    In the course of your reading you will see references to specific books (including primary sources). The author of the book you are reading may make specific reference to a particular book or, more likely, you will see citations listed in the notes or the bibliography. Remember, if the book you are reading is relevant to your research, you should pay a great deal of attention to the bibliography. Those citations to primary sources may end up being more important than the text of the book itself.
  • Searching for books on your topic
    Even if you have searched for known items, you will still want to search catalogs for other primary sources on your topic. You can do this by doing a keyword search and/or a subject search. I recommend that you begin with a keyword search and then, once you find relevant books, redo your search using one of the subject headings associated with the book(s) you found. There are keywords/subject terms that you can use that will help identify primary texts. Among these terms are: diary, letters, correspondence, documentary and sources.
  • MnPALS
    The above link will take you to MnPALS. Search MnPALS to find out if we have a particular book you want to read. You will also search MnPALS to find out what books we have on your subject.
  • All MnPALS Libraries
    This link allows you to search the holdings of all MnSCU libraries plus the Minnesota Historical Society (as well as others).
    WORLDCAT lists books held by university and research libraries throughout the United States. If you want to know what has been written on a subject, this is the place to go.
We have several indexing and abstracting services as well as full-text article databases that you will want to search. Below you will find links to those that contain significant resources for historians:
  • America History and Life
    "America History and Life" is a premier indexing and abstracting service focused on Amerian history. Unlike many databases, you can search "America History and Life" by subject in addition to keyword. Although this is not a full-text database, the "Find it!" link will take you to the text.
    JSTOR is a keyword searcable index of the full-text of key journals in a wide variety of disciplines. Included are 44 history journals many of them with a U.S. focus and most of these will have articles on topics of interest to the study of the Mississippi River. When searching this database, I recommend that you do an advanced search rather than a basic search.
You may want to use primary resources in your research. Primary resources come in many forms and include: diaries, letters, memoirs, autobiographies, interviews and newspaper articles. You will find references to these in the same way you find references to books and articles, i.e. in bibliographies and by searching databases. We do have several databases that are made up entirely of primary resources that are likely to have information on Mississippi River topics:
  • Accessible Archives
    Accessible Archives houses three repositories: Godey's Ladys Book (1830-1885), 19th century African-American Newspapers, and the text of three Civil War newspapers: Charleston Mercury, New York Herald, and the Richmond Enquirer.
  • American Periodicals Series
    APS (American Periodical Series) is a searchable full-text database of articles from magazines and journals published in the United States from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. The link will take you to the list of databases of interest to historians.
  • HarpWeek
    HarpWeek is the online version of the popular 19th century magazine Harper's Weekly. Best known for its coverage of the American Civil War.
  • Making of America (U. Michigan)
    The University of Michigan is one of two sites hosting the "Making of America" online collection of 19th century texts. This particular site (Cornell is the other) hosts the searchable full-text of 8,500 books and 11 magazines.
  • New York Times Historical
    This database is made up of the entirety (every article in every issue) of the New York Times from its inception in 1851 to 2001 (current issues are available on a related database). NOTE: unless you limit by time period, a keyword search is likely to return an unmanageable number of records.
  • Chicago Tribune Historical
    Full text of the Chicago Tribune 1849-1985. Significant coverage of events and issues concerning the Mississippi River (note coverage of Winona as well as other river towns)
  • Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
    The following is taken from the homepage of the project: "Unique in their scope and richness, the prints and photographs collections today number more than 13.7 million images. These include photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. While international in scope, the collections are particularly rich in materials produced in, or documenting the history of, the United States and the lives, interests and achievements of the American people"."
  • Winona Newspapers
    Searchable full-text of three Winona newspapers dating from 1855 through 1924. Coverage of the Winona Argus, the Winona Daily Republican, and the Winona Republican Herald.
State historical societies have significant collections relating to the Mississippi with some material being freely available online. MAP
The U.S. Corps of Engineers has an online edition of its "Upper Mississippi River Navigattion Charts." This collection is the most detailed of contemporary maps focused on the Mississippi

Interlibrary Loan
If you are unable to find the specific book or article you need, let us know and we will locate it and have it sent here for your use. To do this, click on this link and follow the instructions. NOTE: your barcode number is off the back of your id (it begins with the numbers 20106000...) and your password is you last name. ALSO: articles will generally be sent electronically. You will be notified via email. Books will come via courier and will be held for you at the Circulation Desk

RefWorks users can create their own personal database by importing references from online databases. They can use these references in writing their papers and automatically format the paper, in-text citations, and the bibliography in seconds. It is a web-based product; you must have internet access to use it. For off campus usage you will need the WSU off campus code (which is emailed to you once you create an account).

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