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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 200D: Film and Historical Narrative

A course guide.

Where to Begin

If you can't find your book in our Library Catalog, you should next check to see if it's available from an I-Share Library. To search all I-Share Libraries, switch to "Advanced Search" in our library's catalog, and select the "All I-Share Libraries" radio button.

Next Steps

If you book you need is not available either here at University of Illinois, or at one of the I-Share Libraries, then you should search for it in:

If you find a record for your book in WorldCat, you can initiate an interlibrary loan request directly through WorldCat.

Subject Headings

The subject headings used in the catalog are standardized Library of Congress terms, which may be “subdivided” (made more specific) by geographic area, chronological period, genre, or sub-topic.

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.

Here are some examples of subject headings relating to history and film:

  • Historical films —History and criticism.
  • Historical films —United States —History and criticism.
  • Historical films —Soviet Union —History and criticism.
  • Motion Pictures and History.
  • Motion Pictures in Historiography.
  • Motion Pictures —Philosophy.
  • United States —In motion pictures.
  • Moving pictures —United States.
  • Eisenstein, Sergei, 1898-1948 —Criticism and interpretation.
  • Kramer, Stanley.
  • Bertolucci, Bernardo —Criticism and interpretation.
  • Hawks, Howard, 1896- .
  • Pontecorvo, Gillo, 1919- .
  • Malcolm X (Motion picture: 1992).
  • 1900 (Motion picture).
  • Patton (Motion picture).
  • Matewan.
  • Rosa Luxemburg (Motion picture).
  • Bronenosets “Potemkin” (Motion picture).

You can identify a great many sources by simply doing keyword searching in the online catalog, but if you are doing original research, you will want to conduct a systematic, comprehensive search of our holdings by also searching with subject headings. The online catalog is full of idiosyncracies and inconsistencies, so a multi-faceted approach to identifying material on a particular topic is always a good idea.

Shelf Browsing

In order to browse the shelves, you need to know the “classification number” for your topic. Once a new book is assigned subject headings, it is then “classified” according to the Dewey Decimal Classification. In Dewey, the first three numbers indicate the main subject, and additional numbers are added after a decimal point to narrow the subject. Books and journals on historical topics are usually classified in the 900s, although much of social history gets classified in the 300s, and film is classified in the 700s.

Once you have identified a few books on your topic by doing a subject search in the online catalog, you can browse the shelf under the same general number(s) to find related works. For example, if you know that the book Slaves on Screen, by Natalie Z. Davis, has the call number 791.43655 D29s, you could go to the main stacks, History & Philosophy Library, to browse the shelves under the same Dewey number to find related material.

Because so much of the Library collection is now stored in a high density, off-site storage facility, it's no longer possible to browse the collection as completely as it once was. You can, however, do "virtual shelf browsing" using the:

Digitized Book Collections