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HIST 3050 American Indian History to 1840: Finding Secondary Sources: Articles

Databases for Articles

America: History and Life:  index to scholarly history journals covering the United States and Canada for all time periods.
Advantages: largest number of history journals in any database; allows searching by historical time period.
Disadvantage: not all articles contain links to full text.

Bibliography of Native North Americansindex to journal articles, essays, books, and government documents in all areas of Native American history and culture.
Advantage: specific focus on Indians of North America.
Disadvantage:  not all articles include links to full text.

‚ÄčJSTOR: index to scholarly journals in all subjects.
Advantages: all articles contain links to full text; coverage extends back to first issue of each journal; journals are considered core titles in their fields; good for interdisciplinary research.
Disadvantages: doesn't include as many history journals; doesn't include most recent 4-6 years of publication.
AnthroSource: index to American Anthropological Association journals
Advantages:  includes journals not covered in history databases; journals are considered core titles; all articles contain links to full text; coverage extends back to first issue of each journal.
Disadvantage:  relatively small number of journals included.
Anthropology Plus:  index to journal articles, reports, commentaries, edited works, and obituaries in the fields of social, cultural, physical, biological, and linguistic anthropology
Advantage:  includes journals not covered in history databases.
Disadvantage:  not all articles contain links to full text.,

Project Muse: index to scholarly journals in all subjects.
Advantages: all articles contain links to full text; good for interdisciplinary research.
Disadvantage: doesn't include as many history journals.

Academic Search Complete: index to journals in all subjects.
Advantages: largest number of journals covered; good for interdisciplinary research.
Disadvantages: not all journals included are scholarly; not all articles contain links to full text.

Multi-Search:  this is a new resource that allows you to search many (but not all) of the library databases simultaneously.  This search box appears on the UGA Libraries webpage.
Advantages:  saves you from having to switch from one database to another to retype your search; good for interdisciplinary topics that no single database covers thoroughly.
Disadvantages: can be overwhelming because your searches may return a very large number of results; omits special search features (such as time period search) offered by some individual databases.

Complete list of GALILEO databases for history.


Tips for Searching Article Databases

Tips for database searching

Try your search several different ways, even if you get good results on the first try.  There's almost always more or better material available than you can find in just one search.

Keyword search terms:  should you use "American Indians" or "Native Americans"?  For the maximum number of results, you should try both, or even a list like this, with each term separated by the word "or":
native americans or american indians or indigenous people or american natives or north american people

You can also use the names of individual native groups, such as Cree or Cheyenne.

If you want your terms to be searched as a phrase rather than as separate words, put them in quotations (e.g., “Trail of Tears”).  This can help weed out false matches such as a search on Native Americans (without quotations) that brings back articles about Americans who are native speakers of multiple languages (nothing to do with "Native Americans" at all)

Try a truncation symbol, usually an asterisk (*), to find more forms of your search terms. Histor* will search the words history, histories, historian, historical, historiography, etc.

Is an advanced search option available?  It can help you construct more complex or precise searches.

An option to search the full text of the article rather than just a title or abstract can be very helpful for some topics, but it may bring back too many results or irrelevant results for other topics.  Don’t assume that full text searching is always the best option; you may have more success searching for subject keywords or titles of articles.

If your search does not bring back enough results, check the subject terms listed for each article to see if there are additional keywords you haven't tried yet.  Also consider whether there are broader terms you could use, such as "sovereignty" instead of "territorial jurisdiction."

If your search brings back too many results, look for options (often in the left menu) to narrow it to peer-reviewed articles, articles written after a specified date, etc.  However, one limit you might want to avoid using is for "full text."  It sounds good at first to eliminate articles that are not electronically available, but there are two big problems:  this limit sometimes operates too strictly and removes articles that actually are available electronically, and sometimes articles available only in print are the best ones for your topic.  Be sure you understand what the limiting option will remove from your search; you don't want to lose any good material!

If the database offers abstracts (brief summaries) of articles, these can help you quickly decide between articles you want to read in their entirety and articles that won’t be much help to you.


Getting the Full Text

Once you have a reference to a journal article, how can you find the  full text of the article?

    • Look for a full-text PDF or HTML link in the article citation
    • Look for the “Find It @ UGA” button, which searches the UGA journal locator for electronic and print journal holdings
    • If there’s no “Find It @ UGA” button in the database, search for the journal title (not the individual article title) in the UGA journal locator or in GIL-Find
    • If UGA doesn’t have the article in any format, you can get a copy of it through Interlibrary Loan

If an article isn't available online, don't assume that it isn't important or worth reading.  Choose the articles that seem most relevant to your topic, even if you have to go to a little more trouble to get them.  Although many publishers have converted their journals to electronic format, some still publish only in print.  Our library has many of these print-only journals, and their articles can be just as good or better than anything you can find online.  You can make photocopies or scans of print journal articles in the library.



Is It Scholarly?

Your professor may require you to use sources that are scholarly or peer-reviewed.  What does this mean, and how can you tell?

No single factor by itself makes a book or journal article scholarly, but looking for a combination of factors should help you identify scholarly sources with reasonable confidence.

Peer review is an important element that contributes to the scholarly nature of a publication.  Peer review means that before being published, a proposed article or book is evaluated by experts in the same field.  Some journals identify themselves as peer reviewed, or list an editorial board composed of scholars from different universities.  Peer review is also a standard part of the publishing process for some book publishers. But because it isn't always easy to find confirmation that an individual article or book has gone through peer review, it can be helpful to look for additional clues.

Journals published by scholarly societies and books published by university presses or academic trade presses are usually scholarly.  But publication by some other type of publisher does not in itself disqualify a publication from being scholarly, and publication by a university press does not guarantee that a given book is scholarly.

Authors of scholarly articles and books are usually specialists in their fields with advanced degrees from recognized universities.  They often hold positions at universities or other institutions of higher learning.  If no author is listed, this is an indication that the source is not scholarly.

Scholarly sources almost always include footnotes, endnotes, reference lists or bibliographies.  This is done to give proper credit to the original sources of information and to provide other scholars with a "paper trail" to follow to the original sources if desired.  Non-scholarly sources occasionally include these features as well, but they are typically not as extensive.

The intended audience for scholarly sources is other experts and serious students in the same field rather than general readers or less advanced students.  The language may be technical or otherwise challenging to understand without some background knowledge.  But some scholarly sources are written in a more engaging style and are accessible to a wider range of readers.

Scholarly publications are written primarily to advance knowledge.  Though authors may support one point of view over another, their arguments are based on evidence rather than personal opinion.  By contrast, popular publications are often written to entertain, air personal views, and sell the publication.

Appearance can also provide many clues.  Scholarly journals usually have a plain rather than decorative cover; ordinary rather than glossy paper; charts, graphs, and occasional illustrations rather than an abundance of graphics; and little or no advertising.  Articles tend to be long, and the journal is published quarterly or semi-annually rather than weekly or monthly.

These distinctions apply to secondary sources for the study of history.  Primary sources are selected for their relevance as original evidence that addresses historical questions rather than whether they are scholarly or not.