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Spanish Courses & Research

Historical topics: Start with encyclopedias

Start with encyclopedias

Historical topics will most likely benefit from a traditional research process approach. Look for encyclopedias to give your topic context and show what more specific subtopics you could pursue. Watch the video to learn how to use encyclopedias in more advanced ways than simply keyword ideas.

Use the encyclopedia databases

Or browse the print encyclopedias in the Reference section, 1st floor

Historical topics related to Spanish may show up in several areas, so be adventurous:

  • 300's (social issues, such as immigration)
  • 400's (language), etc.
  • 800's (literature)
  • 900's: 946 (Spain and Portugal)
  • 970-971 (North America)
  • 972 (Central America)
  • 973-9 (United States)
  • 980-9 (South America)

Books and other in-depth sources

Move to in-depth sources once your topic is more known

  • Books and documentaries can be found in OneSearch, WorldCat, and the streaming databases.
  • Learning how to use subject terms will transform your search results.


Physical books and DVDs:

Streaming Video

Article Sources

Look for articles, news, and primary sources once you have specific needs

Articles and primary source subjects vary widely, so it helps you to know what you are looking for before jumping in.

Scholarly articles


Google News can provide good coverage, but not everything is full-text, so be sure to check out ProQuest Central and Newspaper Source plus for more access.

Primary Sources

Look for primary sources in print and online

  • Use "source" as a subject term keyword in searching OneSearch and WorldCat.
  • Use "primary source," museum, archive, and/or site:org as a keyword with your topic on Google or another online search engine. The example below shows a search using archives and site:org and the top result, which is relevant:
    • Screenshot of search using archives and site:org as keywords

In addition, some databases and websites lead you to primary sources more directly:

Evaluation: Three questions

What is it? Why do I care? What does it really say?

You answer these three questions every time you use a source, whether you know it or not.

  • Whether it is a website or a scholarly journal article...
  • Whether it is for a 1st-year course or real life...

Start noticing how you answer these questions to ensure your sources are really meeting your needs.


The Three Questions:

  • What is it: What is the source type and author credibility?
    • Quick Wikipedia checks are okay! You can also compare what other source say about that source.
  • Why do I care: Does the source type and author credibility meet your needs?
    • Decide this at the beginning so you know whether to read the material or find something better.
  • What does it really say: Perceive how the word choices influence the knowledge.
    • The author's word choices, included and excluded information, and the aim of the publication all make a difference in how or why you would use a source.

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