1. Put phrases in quotation marks
Use quotation marks to search for a specific phrase in a database. These tell the database to search for sources containing the entire phrase, rather thank just the individual words. For example:
Search: "government policy"
returns results with this exact phrase
Search: government policy
returns results with the individual words "government" and "policy"
2. Use "and" to make your search more specific
Combine search terms using "and" to find sources that contain both of those terms, not just one or the other. For example:
Search: "Confederate States of America" AND Georgia
returns results that contain both "confederacy" and "Georgia"
3. Use "or" to make your search broader
Search for several similar terms using "or" to increase the number of results you find. For example:
Search: "civil war" AND (education OR school)
4. Use subject terms from the database
If you've tried different keywords and can't find what you need, use the subject terms provided by the database. These terms are what the database uses to categorize the subject content of resources, and can be a more effective way of looking for sources. A list of subject terms used by the database are often provided on the sidebar or top navigation bar in a database results list.
The MSU Library subscribes to a number of historical databases that are invaluable in conducting historical research. Below are some of the core history databases available through the library that provide access to scholarly articles and other secondary resources.