HIS 103 - Western Civilization

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Quick Tips:

Library home page (http://www.sunybroome.edu/library)

  • Books: Search for books on the "books/media" tab.  You can also browse books by topic area on the second floor of the library, in the D through F call number sections.
  • Articles: Do a quick search for articles on the "articles" tab but see below for better search techniques.  (If you are off-campus, it will ask you for your MyCollege login information.)
  • Interlibrary loan: If we don't have the book or article you need, we will borrow it from another library for you.  For free.  Books can take up to a week to get here; articles take 2-3 days.
  • Help: Email rothnw@sunybroome.edu, or stop by or call the Reference Desk: 607-778-5043

Primary Sources:

What are primary sources?

A primary source is a first-hand account of an event or time period that was created by the participants or observers. Primary sources enable historians to stand as close to the past as possible without actually being present at the event.

Examples of primary sources include:

  • Original documents such as letters, manuscripts, diaries, speeches
  • Autobiographies & memoirs
  • Artifacts from researched time period such as clothing, tools, etc.
  • Records from governmental agencies & non-governmental organizations 
  • Photographs and other audio-visual materials
  • Newspaper articles & books that are contemporaneous to the time under study
  • Maps
  • Court cases

Guide to Primary Sources (http://sunybroome.info/library/guides/primary-sources)

Recommended Sites:

Key documents from all important world cultures are included, from the ancient Near East and ancient Egypt to the Greek and Roman Empires, medieval Islam, Renaissance Europe, and modern Africa and Asia. Constitutions, speeches, letters, acts, treaties, and legal cases are all covered

This database contains a collection of primary sources and other materials including a helpful primary source worksheet, found here.  Click on the primary sources link to see the full collection of material.

              Example source from this database: Twelve Tables of Roman Law

World History In Context provides an overview of world history that covers the most-studied events, periods, cultures, civilizations, religions, conflicts, wars, ideologies, cultural movements, and people.   To locate primary source materials, select 'Advanced Search' then limit to 'primary sources' from the 'Content Type' grid.                

                        Example source from this database: Magna Carta


The Perseus Project is a digital library developed and curated at Tufts University.  Its flagship collection covers the history, literature and culture of the Greco-Roman world.  Other collections cover the Rennaisance period and more.  To locate primary source materials, select 'Collections'.  Each collection contains a variety of sources.  The Perseus Project is more difficult to navigate than the library databases but contains a wide array of source material.

                        Example source from this site: Richard Hakluyt. The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques, and Discoveries of the English Nation.



Peer Reviewed Articles:

What are Peer Reviewed Articles?

Simply stated, a peer reviewed article is: an article in an academic journal that has been critically evaluated by scholars (experts) in that field.  Before an article is deemed appropriate to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, it must undergo the following process: 

  •  The author of the article must submit it to the journal editor who forwards the article to experts in the field. Because the reviewers specialize in the same scholarly area as the author, they are considered the author’s peers (hence “peer review”).
  •  These impartial reviewers are charged with carefully evaluating the quality of the submitted text.
  •  The peer reviewers check the text for accuracy and assess the validity of the research methodology and procedures. 
  •  If appropriate, they suggest revisions. If they find the article lacking in scholarly validity and rigor, they reject it.

·     Because a peer-reviewed journal will not publish articles that fail to meet the standards established for a given discipline, peer-reviewed articles that are accepted for publication exemplify the best research practices in a field.

Features of a Peer-Reviewed Article

When you are determining whether or not the article you found is a peer-reviewed article, you should consider the following questions:

Is the journal in which you found the article published or sponsored by a professional scholarly society, professional association, or university academic department? Does it describe itself as a peer-reviewed publication? (To know that, check the journal's website). 

Did you find a citation for it in one of the  databases that includes scholarly publications? (JSTOR, EBSCOhost Academic Search Complete,  etc.)?  Read the database description to see if it includes scholarly publications. 

Did you limit your search to scholarly or peer-reviewed publications? 

Is there an abstract (summary) at the beginning of the article? 

Is the tone of the article thoughtful, restrained and serious? 

Does the article have footnotes or citations of other sources? 

Does the article have a bibliography or list of references at the end? 

Are the author's credentials listed? 

Is the topic of the article narrowly focused and explored in depth? 

Is the article based on either original research or authorities in the field(as opposed to personal opinion)? 

Is the article written for readers with some prior knowledge of the subject?

Where to find Peer Reviewed Articles:

History Databases in the library (many of these databases contain scholarly articles)

E-journals that cover U.S. history (listing of full-text e-journals, most are contained in the recommended databases below)

Recommended Sites:

Academic Search Complete

Contains a collection of full-text peer reviewed and popular articles.  Remember to limit your search to 'Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals'.  Use the 'Subject Terms' link to find the appropriate search term for your topic.

                         Example source from this database: Roman Law and Twelve Tables


Contains a collection of full-text peer reviewed articles, reviews, and primary sources.  Avoid book reviews by remembering to limit your search to 'Articles'.  You may also apply a limit to 'History Journals'.

                         Example sources from this database: 1. Magna Carta

                                                                                    2. Twelve Tables Roman Law

                                                                                    3. Domesday Book

                                                                                    4. Mercantilism and Renaissance period (The rise of new economic attitudes during later middle ages and renaissance)


Finding articles tutorial: see tutorial for assistance in finding articles and limiting results.