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HIST 3640: Contemporary United States: Home

Old news and new databases

Databases appeared in the mid 1990's, so their records usually only go back that far.  For historical journal literature, JSTOR and Project Muse have historical articles.  Also, we have print indexes that can be subject searched to identify articles that may exist.  Then check our catalog for any access to these journals we may have. 

The reference librarian at the reference desk is there to help.

Primary Documents for the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s

Newspaper Articles

We have microfilm of several newspapers, including the Modesto Bee, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and the Times of London.  Load  the appropriate microfilm into the reader and navigate to that date  you want.  Ask the librarian for help.

If you do not have a date, but rather a a topic, you can look up that topic in either the New York Times Index or the Times of London Index to determine what dates have articles on that topic.  Sometimes the index directs you to an alternate wording of the topic for more articles.  These indexes have to be searched year by year.

Contemporary Magazine and Journal Articles

For articles in Time, Life, Saturday Evening Post and others from that time period, the Readers' Guide Retrospective database can be keyword searched to identify articles on your topic.  Then check the library catalog Holdings and SUPPLS lines to determine whether we own the year you want in microfilm or print.  If not, we can order from Interlibrary Loan.  Just ask a librarian for help. 

Other databases that have historical articles include JSTOR and Project Muse.  These have digitized full text of many popular magazines and scholarly journals.

Laws and legal cases

Westlaw is a database that includes constitutional, federal, and state laws, as well as Supreme Court and state cases.  In addition, the Web can give you the name of these cases to use in Westlaw, if not the full text itself.


Various sources include speeches.  Within the database Academic Search Premier, limit to the source title Vital Speeches of the Day and add your keywords.  In addition to the American Memory Website, and the American Decades reference book, use the library catalog to locate the writings of individual authors.


The American Memory Website will be good, as will the California State University sponsored Calisphere.  Many photo archives exist on the Web, and the Google Images search can do a good job of finding images.


One source of biographical informaiton is memoirs by people who experienced or witnessed events.  Check our catalog for books written by key players as well as books that match keyword searches and are autobiographical.

Another source of autobiographical information is the database In the First Person.  Search this database by keyword to find interviews by people who are connected to events.  Some of the information requires a password that we do nto have, but much of it is available.

Other resources

The Library of Congress American Memory Website includes "written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience."

A Reference series called American Decades includes all types of primary docuemnts in volumes organized by decade.  These are located in the reference collection, behind the reference desk:  Ref E169.1 .A471977 2004

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