Our databases can only look for the words you enter in, and they can only return results that exactly match your searches. That's why its important to take some time to do a little background research, especially for a history project. Should you be looking in databases about the Roman times, the Middle Ages, or the twentieth century?
Ingram Library provides several online reference databases to help you frame your topic and come up with search terms. We especially recommend Credo Reference and Oxford English Dictionary. As you look, try to identify:
- What is your topic? How has it been used throughout history? What are its current applications?
- When did your topic start (invention/discovery)? When did any major developments happen?
- Where did your topic have an impact? Is it regionally or globally important?
- Who invented or discovered your topic? Often searching the inventor's or developer's name will give you more relevant history articles than just searching the topic.
- What are the major developments and publications that are relevant to your topic? Try looking specifically for these publications and events too.
The goal here to have a list of terms that will return relevant articles, and only relevant articles. For example, searching for natural log will return many results about nature and tree logs and their impact on human society. However, searching for John Napier, the famous inventor of the natural log, will give you only articles about the math function and Napier's discovery of it.
Ingram Library (and the University System of Georgia) carries many books on the history of math and science. You can search for these materials on the book tab of our homepage.
Ingram Library has many history databases, most of which specialise in a specific time period or event in history. To begin your history research, we recommend starting in the following more general databases. Each of these databases include different journals and other resources.
- GALILEO Discover Service (the search bar at the top of GALILEO that searches a variety of other databases)
- JSTOR (a massive archive of historical, science, and humanities based periodicals)
- Project Muse (general historical and humanities database)
- History Reference Center (general historical and humanities database)
Whichever database you are in, the following tips should help.
- Be diligent. Try searching for your topic, then any of its synonyms. Search the names of any poeple who made important contributions and any significant publications.
- Try the same searches in different databases. Each database covers different materials and will return different results for the same search terms.
- If your topic or name is several words long, try putting those words in quotations.
There are a number of great websites relevant to History in Science. Googling for any publication before 1920 will usually bring up its full text. In addition, you may want to try the following sites:
- Internet History of Science Sourcebook
- World Digital Library Topic Search
- Smithsonian Natural History Museum
- Historical Math Monographs
The research guides linked above may also have websites relevant to your topic.