Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

History LibGuide: Home

This guide is designed to help history students find resources through the library. We'll point you toward the best databases and tools to use. You might even find pointers geared toward a specific class or assignment!

Getting Started

This guide will help you find History resources available through the Alverno library. Need more information? Please call, email, or visit the library.

Logging in from off campus? All Alverno electronic resources are available from off campus. Use the 14 digit barcode on your student ID to access our resources from off campus. Click here for more information.

How do I know if it's a reference book?

We have a reference collection in the library, but you’ll also find many reference books in our general collection.

Here’s a basic list of things that qualify as reference materials:

  • almanacs
  • atlases
  • bibliographies
  • citation manuals
  • dictionaries
  • directories
  • encyclopedias
  • guidebooks
  • handbooks
  • indexes
  • manuals
  • statistics
  • yearbooks

CREDO and GALE VIRTUAL REFERENCE LIBRARY (GVRL) contain full text access to electronic reference materials. In both databases, you can browse by subject/topic, browse by title, or keyword search.

Remember: We also have a print reference materials. Search TOPCAT or stop into the library to browse the print collection.

How do I know if it's a primary source?

"Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later."

(via Yale)

Assignment Calculator

This time management tool will help you get assignments done on time.

Books & eBooks

Use these tabs to find new books and ebooks in the library, or start your own search using the search boxes to the right.

Questions? Ask a librarian!

TOPCAT  (our library catalog) is best for finding books, reference books, CDs, DVDs, journals, and some of our ebooks and ejournals. You'll also find items held by other SWITCH libraries, which you can request online.


  • Use the Advanced Search option
  • Start with broad search terms, as you become more familiar with the topic, get more specific. Use the limiters on the left of the results page to narrow your results
  • When searching for ebooks, make sure to limit the library to Alverno (or use Ebook Central)
  • Use the listed subject headings. Find a result that's similar to what you want, look at the subject terms it uses, try those in your search instead.


Ebook Central is our main ebook provider. Everything you find here is immediately accessible for your as an Alverno patron. You can access Ebook Central from off campus by logging into your TOPCAT account.


  • Create a free login on Ebook Central to download books or save them to your virtual bookshelf
  • If you download books, you'll need Adobe Digital Editions to read them on your computer
  • If you make notes/highlight as you read, we HIGHLY recommend you chose the read online option and save the book to your bookshelf
    • This saves your notes/highlighting forever. If you annotate in a downloaded ebook, everything is deleted when your checkout term is over. 
  • Use the Subjects and dropdown Focus recommendations to build your wordbank


Questions? Ask a librarian.

Finding Articles

JSTOR contains a wide-range of information related to the humanities. It is a go-to database for many students.


  • Use Advanced Search
  • Keep your searches broad at first, use the filter options to narrow your results
  • JSTOR doesn't show you the subject terms, so you might have to build your word bank before coming here, that way you'll have plenty of terms to try if your first search doesn't work


  • Choose an EBSCO database from the Databases A-Z list (like History Reference Center)
  • Click "Choose Databases" above the search bar
  • Select additional EBSCO databases that could be useful for you
    • Think outside the box - maybe you're a history student, but could an education database be helpful? What about science? Psychology?
  • Start with Advanced Search, look at the predictive text that drops down when you start typing for ideas on building up your word bank
  • Look at the SUBJECT terms included in the results list, add relevant ones to your word bank
  • Use the limits on the left, including PEER REVIEWED, FULL TEXT, and PUBLICATION DATE
  • Some EBSCO databases have a Thesaurus Tool - check your terms there if you're not sure where to start
  • From within an article record you can open the full text, email the article to yourself, print, copy the permalink, add it to your folder (NOTE: folders require you to create a free EBSCO account), or copy the APA citation (double check this for errors!)

Google is great for casual research, but Google Scholar is a better resource to find information for your assignments. Use the link to GOOGLE SCHOLAR that's on the library homepage. This is synced to our databases, so if we have full text, it should give you a link. What you find in Google Scholar is, by default, of a higher caliper than what you find in regular Google.

This is also a great way to check for full text if you find a citation elsewhere. If Google Scholar doesn't lead you to the full text, contact the library for help getting a free copy of the resource you want.

Looking for credible information about the history of African Americans, American Indians or Latino Americans? Try these databases:

African American Experience

American Indian Experience

Latino American Experience

All of these resources can be accessed from the A to Z list on the the library web page.

Audio Visual Material

ARTSTOR is an incredible database for finding free, high quality images. You can include these images in projects that serve an educational purpose without worrying about copyright, but you still have to cite them! All you need to do is create a free login to download the images you want to use.

For help citing images, check the Citing Sources LibGuide.

SMITHSONIAN GLOBAL SOUND is another fantastic resource for finding primary sources and other audio material. You can browse by place, performer, cultural group, instrument, genre, and more. You can also create a free personal account to save your favorite tracks!

Basic Search Tools







Need Help?


Send us a question:

Citing in APA

NoodleTools helps create accurate citations, reference lists, and annotated bibliographies. For best results, use it in conjugation with the APA manual or the APA Style website.

NoodleTools icon

Need more resources? Visit the library's Citing Sources LibGuide.

Library Information

Need more help?

-Stop in for 1-on-1 help. Hours, Staff Directory & Location
-Call the reference desk at (414) 382-6062
-Library Home Page

Library Liaison

Larry Duerr

Spot a problem with this LibGuide or have a research question? Let me know!