Skip to Main Content

HIST2600: Historical Methods (United States History from the Colonial Era to the Civil War): Library Catalogs

Search Terms for Primary Sources

To find primary sources in library catalogs, the following search terms - coupled with your subject terms - are among the most useful:

  • Anecdotes
  • Archives
  • Biography
  • caricatures and cartoons
  • case studies
  • Catalogs
  • comic books, strips
  • correspondence
  • description and travel
  • diaries
  • documentary films
  • exhibitions
  • interviews
  • manuscripts
  • maps
  • notebooks, sketchbooks
  • personal narratives
  • photography
  • pictorial works
  • portraits
  • public opinion
  • songs and music
  • sources
  • speeches
  • statistics
  • statues

Library Catalogs

Major Library Catalogs

Cheng Library Catalog
Contents of the Cheng Library's collection.

Search other library catalogs in New Jersey.

WorldCat is the world's largest and most comprehensive union catalog, with bibliographic records that represent more than 2.3 billion individual items held by participating institutions. WorldCat includes records for books, videos, serial publications, articles, recorded books and music, electronic books, sheet music, genealogical references, cultural artifacts, digital objects, Web sites and much more. The cataloged works span thousands of years and nearly every form of human expression, with materials in over 470 languages from 112 countries and territories..

Some Other Sources of Books

Google Books (Advanced Book Search Screen)
Access to thousands of twentieth century titles in the public domain (i.e., with copyright dates of 1922 or earlier).

Hathi Trust Digital Library
HathiTrust is a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future. There are more than sixty partners in HathiTrust, and membership is open to institutions worldwide. The HathiTrust Digital Library brings together the immense collections of partner institutions in digital form, preserving them securely to be accessed and used today, and in future generations. A substantial part of the collections accessible through the digital library are in the public domain and accessible, but not all of it, so be aware of this if you search it.

Internet Archive: E-Books and Texts
The Internet Archive and Open Library offers over 8,000,000 fully accessible public domain eBooks. This includes a special modern collection of over 500,000 eBooks for users with print disabilities, and a very interesting curated, modern collection for the world at large.

Search Strategies for HIST 2600

Productive searches in catalogs and article databases requires the use of good search terms. Here are some recommended strategies for the major topics in this course:

The Underground Railroad

  • Antislavery movements
  • Fugitive slaves
  • Underground Railroad

Marla Miller, Betsy Ross & the Making of America (Women and the Making of America)

It is often useful to combine subject, aspect, and/or time period in a search. For example:


  • Abolitionists
  • Antislavery movements
  • Feminism
  • Plantation owners' spouses
  • Sex role
  • Women abolitionists
  • Women slaves


  • Education
  • Political activity
  • Social life and customs
  • Social conditions


  • 18th century
  • 19th century
  • Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775
  • Revolution, 1775-1783
  • 1783-1865

John Ferling, Whirlwind: The American Revolution & the War That Won It (American Revolution and Revolutionary War)

A useful search term that covers most books about the American Revolution is:

  • History Revolution, 1775-1783

To this you can add specific geographies (e.g., United States, Great Britain, New Jersey, etc.), individuals or groups (e.g., Indians of North America, Charles Cornwallis, George Washington, etc.), specific events (Bunker Hill, Battle of, Boston, Mass., 1775; Yorktown (Va.) Siege, 1781, etc.), or specific topics (e.g., Naval operations, Campaigns, Military leadership, Medicine, etc.)


A History of Stepfamilies in Early America (Family History in Early America)

A useful search term that covers many books about family history in the United States is:

  • Families United States History

To this you can add specific members or roles (e.g., children, women, sons, daughters, etc.), topics (marriage, family relationships, family violence, social conditions, etc.), and specific time periods or geographies.


The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (Slavery in Early America)


Final Passages: The Intercolonial Slave Trade of British America, 1619-1807 (The Slave Trade)


Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Richard Kearney
chat loading...
Electronic Resources Librarian
Reference and Information Services Office, Room 107g
David and Lorraine Cheng Library
William Paterson University
300 Pompton Road
Wayne, NJ 07470