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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 498D : Local History in a Global Context

Guide to finding resources on the local experience of global events

America: History and Life

The two main article databases for history are Historical Abstracts and America: History and Life. One or the other of these databases is usually the best starting place to search for scholarly articles in English on topics in history. America: History and Life covers articles, book reviews, and dissertations on all periods of North American history published since 1964, and in some cases it provides links to the full text of the articles online. Historical Abstracts covers articles, book reviews, and dissertations published since 1954 on all aspects of world history, excluding North America, from 1450 to the present. You can search these databases together or separately.  Go to the Library Gateway, choose Online Research Resources, and type “America History and Life” or “Historical Abstracts” in the search box or use the Quick Links on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site.

If you select “Easy Search” from the Library Gateway, there is an option to search for materials on historical topics. This feature searches across several databases, including America: History and Life and Historical Abstracts. 

Searching these databases directly, rather than with Easy Search, offers you more search options. Use the Subject Browser in these databases to select your subject term(s) by clicking on the open book icon to the right of the search box. You can narrow your search by adding a keyword or using more than one subject term. Each record shows you an abstract or summary of the article. To find out whether the full text is available online, click on the blue "Discover" icon. 

Other Article Databses

Full Text Resources

Several major historical journals are included in JSTOR, such as:

  • American Historical Review
  • Journal of American History 
  • Journal of Black Studies
  • Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • Journal of Negro History
  • Journal of Southern History

In addition to the links provided from America: History and Life and Historical Abstracts, you can search JSTOR directly. Because it is a collection of digitized texts rather than an abstracting/indexing service (and does not employ subject descriptors), careful selection of search terms and fields is essential. In the absence of subject headings, subject searches are built on keywords, so it is prudent to try several different approaches for any given topic. Note that only about 10% of the articles in JSTOR have abstracts, so limiting your search term to the abstracts might cause you to miss relevant material. When a Boolean keyword search produces a large set of results, try using the proximity ("near") operator to limit the results to a combination of terms occurring within 10 or 25 words of one another.

Here you will find, for example,

  • American Quarterly
  • History and Memory
  • Ethnohistory
  • Hispanic American Historical Review
  • History and Memory
  • Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • Radical History Review

Individual electronic journals

Unfortunately, as more and more journals become available online, some through commercial "aggregators" and others individually, it becomes difficult to keep track of all the e-journals available in a particular discipline. How can you determine if a particular journal is available electronically? Most online journals are available through the Online Research Resources (ORR). If you need to know, for example, if the journal Social Text is available online, you can start by checking for it here.

The Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, which began publication in 1908, is available online from 1979 to 2006 on the Northern Illinois University web site.  (We have the original print version in the bookstacks: 977.305 IL and 977.305 IL1.)  Volumes 1 through 13 (1908-1921) are available online in the Internet Archive.  The Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society and its Papers in Illinois History are also available in this database.