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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 200E: Family, Gender, and Law: Transitions, East and West: II. Books

A course guide to library resources.

1. The Online Catalog

Use the Online Catalog to find books. In the Online Catalog you can search for books by subject, or you identify the location within the Library of a particular book or journal.

Books and journals are organized in the library by subject. Each item is assigned one or more subject headings and a unique call number. Subject headings are standardized terms from the Library of Congress. The call number is based on the Dewey Decimal Classification.

2. I-Share

The UIUC Library is one of 70+ member libraries comprising the I-Share consortium. I-Share libraries share an online catalog, I-Share, and UIUC students, staff, and faculty can borrow directly from the other libraries in the consortium by placing a request through the catalog.

You can also search the UIUC catalog separately. When you use the Library Gateway, this is the first option under “Library Catalogs,” and normally you will want to start by searching UIUC only.

3. Why Bother with Subject Headings?

It’s true that you can find sources on a topic by doing keyword searches. But if you limit yourself to keyword searching, you are likely to miss important material on your topic that uses other terms. If you only need two or three books, you can probably find what you need by doing keyword searches, but if you are doing historical research, you can’t afford to miss critical material on your topic. For a comprehensive subject search, search with subject headings as well as keywords.

A good way to identify subject headings for a topic is to do a keyword search in the online catalog using terms you think describe the topic and try to identify a few relevant books. Look at the full record for those books to see what subject headings were used, then do another search on those headings.

As a rule of thumb, use fairly broad headings, as well as the specific ones that describe your topic, in order to make sure you haven't inadvertently eliminated relevant material that is contained within works of larger scope. Most likely you will find multiple headings to describe your topic, and you should use all of them. You can narrow your search in the online catalog by combining subject headings (as a phrase) with keywords, using the “Advanced Search” option.

4. Some example subject headings

  • Family policy--History
  • Family--History
  • Family--History--Periodicals
  • Marriage--History
  • Marriage--India--History
  • Marriage--Japan--History
  • Marriage law--United States
  • Marriage law--England--History
  • Marriage law--Great Britain--History
  • Divorce--History
  • Polygamy--United States--History
  • Motherhood
  • Fatherhood
  • Father and child
  • Parent and child
  • Parenting
  • Illegitimate children
  • Children--History
  • Child welfare--History
  • Children's rights--United States--History
  • Family--England--History
  • Child rearing--History
  • Children--Government policy

5. Searching the Online Catalog

To search the online catalog, go to the Library Gateway and click on Library Catalog. The online catalog offers both “Quick Search” and “Advanced Search” options. Use “Advanced Search” to identify subject headings on your topic, to combine subject headings (or elements from subject headings) in a Boolean search, or to combine keywords from any part of the record with subject headings to narrow your search.

Use “Quick Search” to browse a subject heading, to search a title when you know exactly how it begins, to locate a work or works by a particular author, or to search by call number for a specific book.

6. Digitized Book Collections

In addition to the 13 million+ printed books available to you here in the Library, we also have a rapidly growing collection of digitized books.

Internet Archive and Google Books. Millions of books digitized from the collections of North American and British research libraries, including University of Illinois. These are the two largest digitized book collections that are free to use.

Sabin Americana. Based on Joseph Sabin's Bibliotheca Americana, this collection includes books, pamphlets, and periodicals about the Americas from 1492 to 1868. Includes publications both from the Americas and from elsewhere.

Archive of Americana. Includes Early American Imprints, as well as 3 major government documents collections: American State Papers, 1789-1838, U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1980, and Serial Set Maps, 1817-1980.

Early English Books Online (EEBO). Almost every book printed in the English-speaking world from 1473-1700.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO). Nearly 150,000 English-language works published between 1701 an 1800. 

ACLS Humanities E-Book(formerly History E-Book Project).Includes more than 3,700 scholarly books (as of 2013) in the humanities, with an emphasis on history.