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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 392A: The 1960s in U.S. History

Both a broad overview of the source types collected by research libraries, and also lists specific sources relevant to research for this course.

Library Catalogs

To find books, begin with the University of Illinois Library Catalog:

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:

After you have explored the books available to you here at the University of Illinois, and also at other I-Share libraries, you will want to expand your search using WorldCat:

If you find a book in WorldCat that you would like to use for your research, you can request it through interlibrary loan:

Subject Headings in Library Catalog

Subject headings are used to collocate records for works on a common subject under a single, standardized heading.

The subject headings used in the Library Catalog are standardized Library of Congress terms, which may be “subdivided” (made more specific) by geographic area, chronological period, genre, or sub-topic. The language of subject headings is not at all intuitive or natural, so you shouldn’t hesitate to ask a librarian for help in finding the correct subject headings.

A good way to identify subject headings for a topic is to do a keyword search in the Library Catalog using terms you think describe the topic, in order 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.

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.

Some Example Subject Headings

  • Student movements.
  • Student movements -- Argentina.
  • Student movements -- California.
  • Student movements -- China.
  • Student movements -- France.
  • Student movements -- France -- Paris.
  • Student movements -- United States.
  • Student movements -- United States -- Bibliography.
  • Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 -- Draft resisters.
  • Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements.
  • Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements -- Periodicals.
  • Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements -- United States.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements -- United States.
  • Peace movements.
  • Peace movements -- United States.
  • Peace movements -- United States -- History.
  • Peace movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Protest movements -- United States  -- History -- 20th century.
  • Student protesters.
  • Counterculture.
  • Subculture -- United States.
  • Hippies.
  • Hippies -- United States.
  • Nineteen sixties.
  • Nineteen seventies.
  • Pacifists -- United States.
  • Pacifists -- United States -- Biography.

You can also use subject headings to find primary sources in the Library Catalog. Use the Library Catalog's advanced search option and include one or more of these Library of Congress Subject Heading form subdivisions in your search:

  • correspondence
  • sources
  • diaries
  • personal narratives
  • interviews
  • speeches
  • documents
  • archives

In order to browse a menu of subject headings in the Library Catalog, you must use the Catalog's "Browse Search":

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.

Books as Primary Sources

Like most documents, books can be either primary or secondary sources, depending on the nature of your research questions.

Any books published in the time period you are studying can be used as primary sources in principle. To find them in library catalogs and digitized book collections, search by date of publication (for example, here are books about hippies published in the 1970s).

Primary source documents, whether they were published or unpublished at the time, are often collected and published as books at a later time. To find these kinds of books, use one or more of the following Library of Congress subject terms in your search:

  • correspondence

  • sources

  • diaries

  • personal narratives

  • interviews

  • speeches

  • documents

  • archives

Here's a sample search for nineteen sixties sources.