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Roots of Contemporary Issues Writing and Citation Guides

Searching for Historical Monographs

Historians rely on what other scholars have already researched and written about a chosen topic. These are called as secondary sources. A book-length treatment of a topic, also called a monograph, is a type of secondary source. Scholarly articles are also considered secondary in the historical discipline.

What is meant by “historical” monograph is not that the book was written in the historical past, but rather that the author is writing about and concerned with a specific set of historical moments and processes.

Locating historical monographs using WSU Libraries:

Perform a search in Search It (WSU’s central book database) from the advanced search field. Type in your keyword(s) or phrase(s) in the search box. Refine “Material Type” to “Books” (right-side limiters). If you are retrieving too many irrelevant books, change your search from “Any” to “in the title” in the advanced search interface. IMPORTANT: For History 105 and 305, your monographs must centrally address pre-1980 history related to your topic and research question(s).

Search It contains 100s of millions of records. It labels a large amount of its holdings as “books” even though many are not technically books. Books, as appropriate for this assignment, include (but are not limited to) items published by popular or university presses. Avoid items published by government agencies (considered primary sources), unpublished dissertations, materials available on microform, and material labeled “continually updated sources.” [see Part II Tutorials]

Additionally, avoid tertiary sources, including encyclopedias.

If you’re going to use a book for research, then simply having the record and a brief description of it won’t be sufficient. You will need to obtain a physical copy of the book itself, unless you find an appropriate ebook. Since books are organized by subject in the library, it is highly likely that if you locate the book you’ve selected, you’ll find many more relevant titles on the shelf next to it. In fact, once you’ve located the book’s library record, you can use the “virtual browse” function to see what sits next to it on the shelf.