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HIST 375: Years of Disunion: The American Civil War

A guide to accompany Ms. Edwards' syllabus and assignments. The sources linked here are intended as encouraging suggestions of places to begin exploring and are certainly not a comprehensive list!

Request a Research Consultation

Submit a Research Consultation Form to arrange a meeting with your librarian liaison. I generally respond within 24 hours and can meet with you within a couple days.

For immediate assistance, please feel free to contact the on-call librarian (sometimes it's me!)

All hours and contact information are available on our library website here:

Utilizing LCSH

LCSH is an acronym for Library of Congress Subject Headings.  Below are links to the results display page from our library catalog for a SUBJECT search (select subject in the drop down menu that defaults to keyword).  Important notes on utilizing LCSH:

1. LCSH is a controlled vocabulary. That means you have to be observant of the subject headings in books that you are using and if you want to do a subject search in the catalog, you must use the controlled vocabulary in its precise order.  

2. There is a taxonomy to the LSCH system and it reuses some key terms in the controlled vocabulary.  Being observant of these conventions will constructively inform your selection of keywords to search.  For example, when you know the LCSH terminology for the Confederacy is Confederate States of America and you know from observant experience that foreign relations is a LCSH phrase, do a keyword search for both phrases to find international perspectives on the American Civil War.

Example search "confederate states of america" "foreign relations"   Books in this result set lead to additional important LCSH for your topic.

3. Within the controlled vocabulary of LCSH are a set of words used to describe primary sources.  These terms are not comprehensively applied to all primary sources (for a variety of reasons) but the books they are applied to will lead you to others.  

Some examples of these terms are: sources, letters, interviews, speeches, personal narratives, diaries, correspondence, sermons, notebooks, sketches, description and travel, treaties, pamphlets, biography (includes memoirs), newspapers, periodicals, pictorial works, art, architecture, portraits, caricatures and cartoons, cookery, decorative arts, furniture, material culture, guide books, maps, fiction, poetry, periodicals, newspapers, bibliography, early works to 1800  

Example search: (confederate women) AND (sources or correspondence)

Citing Sources

More about Refworks

Refworks is software application Vassar Library subscribes to that works similarly to free applications such as EasyBib or Zotero. While most popularly known for how they will auto-format and create bibliographies, Refworks and the like are most helpful for storing and organizing your research, especially books and articles found in library catalogs and databases.

A key benefit to using Refworks instead of other applications is that Refworks is linked to our library holdings. When you gather references from Vassar Library databases in Refworks, the "360 link to full-text" icon, which is the link-resolver that provides access to full text when available, appears in RefWorks.

How to: Mark and save a list of citations in one of the library's databases or catalog. Generally you have to click on something that says "folder" or "marked list".  In our catalog, there's a button on the top of the page that says "view saved".  Select the EXPORT option on the same page as the option to email yourself the list. With all of your references in Refworks, you can create folders to organize them.

TIP:  After you click "Create Bibliography" you see a dialog box where you can select your citation style from a drop down list.  Further down is another drop down with output options. The default is HTML.  Change it to Word so you can easily edit the document to correct the inevitable mistakes made during auto-formatting.

Books Beyond Vassar

FYI: West Point United States Military Academy (USMA) library participates in Connect NY.  

Use InterLibrary Loan  for books not available at Vassar or through Connect NY.

Check out HathiTrust for any books published pre 1928. HathiTrust is a project creating high quality digital versions of the print book collections of a consortium of prestigious university libraries. 1928 is a copyright cut-off; all titles before this date are available for free on their site.