Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

History 111: Search Strategies

Welcome! This guide was created to assist you in finding sources for History 111 from the Bristol Community Colleges' Libraries.

Find a Topic

When writing a research paper, don't pick a topic that is too broad. You can narrow down your topic to a manageable size by limiting your topic by time period, geographic area, population group or other aspect. Then pose your topic in the form of a question which you will try to answer in your paper . For example:

 Issue : Black Death + Geographic Area : England

 Paper Topic:  How did the Black Death affect England?

You can focus your topic even more if you wish:

Issue :  Black Death + Geographic Area : England + Population Group : Peasants

 Paper Topic : How were the lives of peasants in England affected by the Black Death?

Suggested Research Topics

Need help with your research?

Find your Key Words

Find your Keywords

Now that you have your topic, pick out your topic KEYWORDS. You will use your Keywords to search the catalog and databases. Do NOT use whole sentences.

 How were the lives of peasants affected by the Black Death in England?

 To join your keywords together use AND:

peasants AND England


To broaden your search use OR:

Black Death OR Plague


To find variant endings of a word use an asterisk * to truncate:

peasant* will find peasant, peasants, peasantry etc.


Put quotation marks around phrases to keep words together:

"Black Death" 


Think of different words that mean the same thing as your original keywords, they may be broader or narrower:

peasants  -   laborers   -  serfs


Try different keywords combinations to find additional results: 

peasants AND England AND "Black Death"

peasants AND England AND plague

serfs AND England AND "Black Death"


Try your keyword combinations using different databases to find more articles.