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HIST 3442: American Migrant Cities

Resource guide to primary sources for HIST 3442: American Migrant Cities

Tips for Searching

Many historical documents that have been digitized have undergone OCR, or optical character recognition, a process where the images of the text have been transcribed to make them keyword searchable. This process captures the words as they appeared, including outdated anglicisations or racist terms that we would no longer use today. 

Including such terms when conducting keyword searches of newspaper or other primary source databases can expand the number of results for your search. For instance, if you are searching for references to Beijing, you may want to also search for Peking. 

General Suggestions - Keywords

Whether you are searching for primary or secondary sources, it is important to use search terms that will generate results. We use subject headings in the library catalog--a controlled list of terms used to collocate results. Some subject headings that you may find useful are: 

Cities and towns -- Growth
Emigration and immigration
Illegal aliens [note: this term is no longer used by the Library of Congress, but may still appear in some library records]
Migration, internal
Rural-urban migration

Tips & Techniques for Finding Primary Sources

Like any online search, it's important to use the right keywords when searching for primary sources. While "primary sources" is the term that we use in class, it is often not the term used on the websites where libraries and museums share their digitized items. 

Other search terms to try might include: 

exhibition archives papers  "finding aid"
"digital exhibit" "special collections" manuscripts            "teacher's kit"
"digital collection" library records "research guide"
"primary sources"  museum collection "primary sources"

You might also find it helpful to search for specific formats. This can be particularly helpful when doing an image search.

"account ledgers" film, video memoirs  "press releases"       
advertisements "financial records" menus prints
"archival footage"      "government publications" "military orders"         records  
audio handbooks, manuals newspapers reports
clippings invitations "oral histories" scrapbooks
correspondence "lab notebooks" pamphlets sermons
diaries "legal records" paintings speeches
deeds legislation photographs telegraphs
ephemera letters polls tickets
"field notes" maps posters wills

Adapted from Robin M. Katz, "How to Google for Primary Sources."