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. 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. The countries of Central America and the Caribbean are treated in both databases.
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. Click on the “Discover” icon to find out if a record links to the full text of the article.
In addition to these two key databases, here are several multidisciplinary online article databases that provide indexing of articles on historical topics:
Article databases associated with other disciplines will also be useful for locating sources on travel. Your choice of these databases will depend on your particular topic. Some possibilities and their dates of coverage:
There are also several major collections of full-text online 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 1,000 scholarly journals from their inception (sometimes as early as the 18th century) up to the last 1-5 years (recent issues are excluded). Several key historical journals are included in JSTOR, such as
Because it is a collection of digitized texts rather than a periodical index, it does not use subject headings. You can only search by keyword (i.e., the words used in the articles published in these journals), so it is prudent to try several synonyms 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.
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,
Periodicals Archive Online provides full-text access to over 600 journals in the humanities and social sciences, with coverage back to 1700. (It is a full-text companion to Periodicals Index Online, which covers over 6,000 titles.) Periodicals can be browsed by subject.
An important collection of 1,100 periodicals, published between 1741 and 1900, entitled American Periodical Series, is available as American Periodical Series Online. Recently expanded to include 338 periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries, the collection includes some newspapers as well as other periodical publications. The articles are fully searchable by keyword, but there is no subject indexing, so you have to be careful to construct your searches using the language of the original articles (e.g., terms in use in the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as “travel diary,” “grand tour,” and “journey,” but not contemporary terms and concepts, such as “travel narratives,” “colonial discourses,” or “ecotourism”). You can, however, browse the periodicals by subject.
British Periodicals covers late 17th to early 20th centuries. Browse periodical titles by subject in both collections.