Skip to Main Content

HIST 181: West Africa in the Era of the Slave Trade

Prof. Thabiti Willis - Fall 2021


STRATEGY: Use bibliographies and notes of seconary lit

Historians document the sources they use carefully.  So, look through the bibliographies and footnotes from books or articles that you have to learn about specific titles of sources as well as types of sources (travel accounts, maps, ethnographies, early treatises, letters) that historians have used in the past to explore a subject.

STRATEGY: Search a digitized collection of documents

STRATEGY: Do advanced searching in Catalyst

info_outline Search Catalyst for CDs, DVDs, LPs, and streaming audio and video held by St. Olaf and Carleton.
info_outline Search or browse research and how-to guides curated by your librarians.

How to know what is a primary source in the catalog?

It can be tricky, but here are some tips:

  • Conduct author searches in Catalyst and WorldCat for persons and organizational bodies important to your topic.
  • Conduct word searches in Catalyst and WorldCat combining terms that describe your topic, geography, or cultural group with LCSH terms that typically indicate something was published as a primary source:
    • early works to 1800
    • correspondence
    • personal narratives
    • sources
    Others to try:
    • diaries
    • pamphlets
    • periodicals
  • Search for your topic by subject or word, then limit your search or sort your search results by publication date to find those that were produced during the era in which you are interested.

NOTE: Remember that the names of geographic places change over time.  So, it may be necessary to search for both the current and historical names.