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.
Banner Image

American History

Researching American history, from the Founders to the Civil Rights Era.

Picking a topic

There are many different lenses for examining history. If your topic is well-known and extensively written about, consider how you might add to the conversation. Can you examine the topic from an unusual lens?

  • Political history (the history of a nation, between nations, the history of government and power)
  • Economic history (trade, finance, taxes)
  • Social history (minority and marginal groups, gender, race, relations between social groups)
  • Intellectual history (of ideas, education, of disciplines)
  • Religious history (beliefs, practice, structures)
  • Cultural history (popular culture, material culture, consumption, art)
  • Environmental history (relations between humans + environment, history of natural environment, of industry)

Background information

Before you begin searching for articles or books on your topic, you need to identify the right keywords. Consider:

  • WHO are the people? Look for specific names.
  • WHERE did the events take place? Look for place names like towns, regions, or landmarks.
  • WHEN did the events take place? Not just the year in which it took place, but the name of that era (e.g., Regency era).
  • WHAT was the event called when it happened? WHAT is it called now? (e.g., "The Great War" vs. "World War I")

Make a list of the key names and phrases that describe your topic so you can refer back to it when searching.

Get started in one of these databases: