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.

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 498H: Obscenity, Censorship, and the Regulation of Morals in the United States from 1873 to the Present

Course guide.

1. Historical Abstracts

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. To search these databases, start at 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 the Easy Search tab on the Library Gateway, your search will be run in America: History and Life and Historical Abstracts, as well as several other multidisciplinary sources. In addition, you can click on “Easy Search” under Quick Links on that page to get the option to limit your search to articles on history.

Searching these databases directly, rather than through 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. Your search results display as short records, which you can expand by clicking on “Expand Record” at the bottom of the record on the right. The full entry shows you an abstract or summary of the article. If a particular article is linked to full text, the link is highlighted.

2. Other Article Databses

There are many other specialized or multidisciplinary article databases that you could search, depending on the focus of your topic. The master list of article databases is available on the Library Gateway’s Online Research Resources page. Below are some databases that you might find useful: 

3. Full-text Resources

There are several major collections of full-text electronic journals. In these databases you can browse individual issues of journals, or you can do a search across the entire database.

For older journals, use JSTOR ("journal storage"). This is a digitized, fully searchable version of the full content of more than 700 scholarly journals from their inception (sometimes as early as the 18th century) up to the last 1-5 years (recent issues are excluded). To get to JSTOR, go to the "Quick Links" on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site, or go to Online Research Resources and type "JSTOR" in the search box. Some of the titles you will find in JSTOR:

  • Eighteenth-Century Studies
  • French Historical Studies
  • Church History
  • The Journal of Military History
  • Journal of Social History
  • The Economic History Review

Conveniently, America: History and Life provides links to articles in JSTOR journals.

For the full text of more than 300 recent scholarly journals, use Project Muse. These too are fully searchable. In most cases, only the issues from the last few years are available. Here you will find, for example,

  • Eighteenth Century Studies
  • Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • History and Memory
  • Journal of Social History
  • Radical History Review
  • Journal of Women's History
  • French Colonial History
  • Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History


To get to Project Muse, go to the "Quick Links" on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site, or go to Online Resources from the Library Gateway and type "Project Muse" in the search box.

The full text of recent issues of twenty scholarly journals in history is available through the History Cooperative, which includes the American Historical Review, Law and History Review, Oral History Review, Journal of Social History, Common-place, Labour History, and Labour/Le Travail. To get to History Cooperative, go to the "Quick Links" on the HPNL web site.

4. Other Search Options

In addition to all of the above, there are research tools that will allow you to search across multiple collections with a query. With these tools, you will typically gain convenience at the expense of precision and control.

Google Scholar
Google Scholar searches Google Books, along with journal collections from publishers with whom Google has a contract. Google does not reveal which publishers are included. Be sure your preferences are set so that Google Scholar recognizes you as a patron of the University of Illinois Library: Click Scholar Preferences; under Library Links, search for University of Illinois and select the following:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Discover UIUC Full Text
University at Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Full Text@IngentaConnect
Search Tip: Because Google Scholar is not discipline-specific, you will need to inlcude search terms that in other databases might be assumed. For example: "history". In Historical Abstracts I would almost never use "history" as a search term, but in Google Scholar I will. Using the Google Scholar Advanced Search I can choose to search the subset "Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities".
Library Easy Search
This search tool is available off the main Library Gateway page. If you choose the Arts & Humanities subset, you will be searching MLA International Bibliography, Historical Abstracts, America: History and Life, RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, Academic Search Elite, Academic OneFile, Web of Science, Library Catalog, I-SHARE Catalog, Springer EBooks, Google Books,, Google, Microsoft LiveWeb, Google Scholar, and Sirius Academic Web Search.