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History, General Resources

While history courses each have their own unique focus, there are some general principles that apply to almost every history class in terms of research.


As you do your preliminary searches you should be looking for keywords to note down for later. Write down the names of individuals who played a key role in your topic, write down important organizations, write down dates and places and any other details that you can then enter in a database search later on. 

Take a look at this document which relates to the topic of James Madison's relations with Native Americans. 

What are some keywords to note:

  • "Red Children": paternalistic phrasing revealing how Madison saw those he addresses. 
  • General Clarke: who was he, is this the right spelling of his name (was it Clark?)
  • Names of tribes: Winibagoes, Osages, Cherokee, Choctaws, Shawnee (note he spells it Shawenoe), Sacs, Fox, Iowa (again, he spells it Ioway, note that spelling is not always consistent in primary sources).
  • Places: Canada, St. Louis, Mississippi, Lake Michigan, Wabash, Malden

Having read the document and noted down the keywords above, you are now ready to search for secondary sources and other primary sources.