It is possible to do a quick and dirty, one box keyword search of the contents of the MSU Libraries' web site, starting at the top left of the Libraries' home page. The results will be sorted into several categories to follow up on: articles from journals, books/media from our online catalog, databases, library research guides like this one, other. To do a more traditional search, read on.
Books and Media (online catalog) may be searched by author's name (last name first), book title, keywords in book title, author/title combination, Library of Congress subject heading, or call number. Searches may be limited by date of publication, words in the title, library location (Murray and Hong Special Collections, Reference, Main, etc.), material type (periodical, electronic resource, etc., or language.
The best quality subject retrieval may be obtained by keyword, if there are no really good subject headings. However, because trained catalogers assign L.C. subject headings to library materials based on examination of the items, L.C. subject headings most often result in high quality retrieval. A set of fat red books in Reference called the Library of Congress List of Subject Headings (Z 695...) should be used to find the best subject headings for your topic. Or, identify a good book through a keyword search and click on the subject headings in the catalog record to be taken to other books with the same heading, expanding your bibliography.
Here is a list of potentially useful L.C. subject headings. Use subject search.
France. Marine = French navy
Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815
There are standard sub and sub-sub-headings for certain kinds of library materials: encyclopedias and dictionaries; bibliographies; and biographies. For example Napoleon Emperor of the French 1769-1821--biography or France--history--18th c.--bibliography.
There are also standard sub and sub-sub-headings for chronological periods, as seen just above, and also for certain forms of materials: congresses; correspondence; diaries; exhibitions; manuscripts; periodicals; personal narratives; pictorial works; and sources. For example France--history--revolution--1789-1799--sources. Watch for the headings suggesting primary sources, if that is the kind of material you seek. Sources, diaries, correspondence, manuscripts, and personal narratives are all primary sources.