--> Skip to main content


How to Narrow Down a Topic:

1) Choose a topic area.

2) Describe your topic area more specifically.

3) Name specific aspects of your topic.

4) Turn your topic into a sentence that is a statement.

5) Make your statement sentence into an argument/question.

Below is an example developed by Dr. Kevin Shirley of the History Department.

External Research:

You may find that some of your research will come to a 'dead end' while only using the library resources. Additional places may be needed to continue research for a class project, an ancestor tree, or general curiousity.

The Troup County Archives, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the Library of Congress are excellent outside resources to use!

How to Research a Topic:

Researching a topic can be somewhat difficult for us all. The easiet way to gain knowledge on a topic is easiet when the project is broken down into steps. Instead of a giant research paper staring down at you, a step-by-step process will make it quick and simple. Thanks to Dr. Crutchfield, Professor of History at LaGrange College, a general template for a Research Trail is located below to help you start our research.

Research Methods

We receive many calls from people looking for an ancestor who attended LaGrange College and if there is any information available on her/him.  Here are some useful FAQs which may assist you with your search.

Did they attend LaGrange College, LaGrange, Georgia? 

There are several LaGrange Colleges in the United States.  You might want to do a Google search to be certain you have the right one. 

"The college began as a women’s academy that was housed in a large white building just down the street from the current campus. A few years later, in 1851, the institution moved to its present location on “the Hill,” which is the highest geographical point in the city of LaGrange.[14] In 1847, the school became LaGrange Female Institute, and the charter was amended to allow the school the power to confer degrees. The name was changed to LaGrange Female College in 1851."  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaGrange_College

When did they attend?

The LaGrange College Catalogues (or Bulletins as they were sometimes called) are available on line beginning with the 1857 issue.  These contain the names of the alumnae and their date of graduation.  These catalogues also contain interesting information about the governance of LaGrange Female College and later LaGrange College.  Just put in LaGrange College + date in the Search.  Just change the date for a new search.  The Quadrangles are also available at:   https://archive.org/details/lagrangecollege

What other sites can I use to get information about my ancestor?


www.ancestry.com     LaGrange College has this data base, but you must use it at the College and must be a student.

http://www.ellisisland.org    Immigration records of those entering through Ellis Island

https://www.familysearch.org/     Provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

National History Day


Although there are differences among libraries, archives, and museums regarding what they collect and preserve, digitization has given researchers the ability to view artifacts, books, and collections online.  Many larger institutions put their Finding Aids to let you know what's in their collections, but smaller archives and museums may not, so you will have to make an appointment to view the item.  It may be in an exhibit or you may need to contact the archivist in order to see it.

Here are some helpful links that will give the researcher a more thorough understanding of how each cultural memory institution organizes its material and how it provides access to the researcher.  Some of these tutorials provide information that will enable you to understand how to use a Finding Aid when searching an archives or a museum.  A library will allow you to look through its catalogue to find a book, DVD, or other item.  

Example:  You are looking for information about daily life in Colonial America and one of your sources mentions a diary written by a young woman.  Where can you find this primary sources?  A library would have a reproduction of the diary, but an archives or a museum might have the original diary.  You could readily access the library copy from looking in the catalogue but you would have to do a search to see if the original is available either online or in the repository.

Archives Links

  • Internet Archive    You can search for historic  books, videos, or audio files, too--all online.  LaGrange College now has its yearbooks, catalogues, and bulletins completely online.  Just go to the search button and put in LaGrange College. You can see what your institution's website looked like in the past by going to the Wayback Machine.  Just type in its URL.

Library Links

  • Look for the history  Research Guide at LaGrange College through the Lewis Library

Museum Links

  • This link will give you names and URLs of some of the world's most famous museums so you can view their collections and Finding Aids online.


NB  This research guide from York University was originally developed in 2005 by Carolyn Caseñas, Adjunct Archivist, Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, Scott Library, York  University and Katherine Kalsbeek, Librarian, Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Brtish Columbia. It has subsequently been revised and developed  by  Anna St.Onge and other archives staff, including Suzanne Dubeau, Julia Holland, and Michael Moir."

© 2011 LaGrange College | 601 Broad Street, LaGrange, GA 30240 | www.lagrange.edu
Default/main header image used:Attribution Some rights reserved