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The reference section is often the best place to start your research, not only for background information but for bibliographies of other sources--especially primary sources.
Books on military history are in the D 25 area, including:
Books on military science are in the U area, naval science in the V, including:
Other reference books that may be useful:
We also have reference books on individual wars. You’ll find more books in the same call number area.
You may also want to look at books on the regions and periods you’re researching, such as:
Use the online catalog to find books, e-books, and DVDs in the Lewis Library.
Subject headings: Use subject headings to find books specifically on a topic (the “Words or phrase” search is also useful for finding books with a chapter on a topic, but it’s often best to stat with a “Subject” search). Some subject headings are what you’d expect (“Cold War,” “Korean War”), others aren’t. Here are a few relevant subject headings; you can click on them to access records of some (not necessarily all) books and e-books on the topic.
United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783.
United States -- History -- War of 1812.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
Spanish-American War, 1898.
World War, 1914-1918.
World War, 1939-1945.
Korean War, 1950-1953.
Vietnam War, 1961-1975. (some catalog records use Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975. )
Persian Gulf War, 1991.
War on Terrorism, 2001-
Iraq War, 2003.
Subject headings may be broken down:
Prisoners of war -- United States -- History -- 18th century.
Prisoners of war -- Confederate States of America -- History.
Prisoners of war -- Japan.
Prisoners of war -- Cuba -- Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
Prisoners of war -- Abuse of.
Adding “personal narratives” or “sources” in a “Subject” search will sometimes help you find primary sources, for example (click on the links to view sample titles):
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives, Confederate.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources.
For a more detailed guide on World War II sources, see this page.
Sometimes “interviews” or “diaries” will appear as subject terms:
Call numbers: Here are the call number ranges for some topics, if you want to browse the “Stacks” on the lower level (remember that you won’t find e-books on the shelf!):
For American military history:
For more detail, see the Library of Congress classifications:
Listed below are just a few of our print books; I hope to add more when time permits. You’ll find more on these topics with similar call numbers.
Ancient and Medieval
World War I
Use GALILEO databases to find journal, magazine, and newspaper articles. The “DISCOVER” search box on the library home page is useful for some topics, but for scholarly sources in History, you’ll usually be better off starting with the databases listed below, then trying the “DISCOVER” search in case any good articles slipped through the cracks.
We have a “Military Database,” which should help for some topics (e.g. strategy), but probably the most useful databases will be “America: History & Life” for the U.S. and "Historical Abstracts" for other countries. (For most U.S. wars other than the Civil War, especially World War I and World War II, you’ll probably want to use both.)
Some recommended databases, with links, for journals and some magazines:
For newspaper articles:
Tips on using JSTOR:
Using quotation marks for phrases is also important in other full text databases, such as newspaper databases and ProQuest databases (Military Database, Research Library, etc.). It’s optional in EBSCO databases.
In EBSCO databases such as Historical Abstracts and America: History & Life, you’ll be searching the title, subject terms, and abstracts, not the full text. For those databases, use single words or short phrases, linked with Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT)—e.g., “civil war AND sherman,” “homefront OR home front.” If you’d like assistance in using these, ask a librarian, or see our guides on Boolean operators and database searching.
If you have a citation for an article from a bibliography, use our Journal Locator database to determine if we have full text for it. Our databases have full text for several peer-reviewed journals on military history, including the following (Historical Abstracts and America History & Life will provide links to full text for most of these):
If you don’t find full text, paste the full citation into an e-mail and send it to the reference librarian. We may have a hard copy on the shelf; if not, we can order it on interlibrary loan.