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History Research Guide

Finding your topic

When you get an assignment, the first task you may need to do is to decide on a good topic, or "thesis statement". If your instructor already gave you a topic or a range of topics, that is great. If not, you can find your own topic by browsing the text book, or browsing the WRLC Catalog or online databases.

Analyzing your topic

Once you have your topic, before doing any searches in the libary catalog or article databases, analyze your topic. Remember, you cannot write everything about the UK or United States History -- try to focus on some specific topics, such as the Boer War, or  a specific group of people, or specific historical event.

To analyze your topic, you need to draw the key concepts from your topic. Consider the following example:

Topic: The Industrial Revolution was the catalyst for many social reforms

The concepts drawn from this topic are: industrial revolution and social reforms.

Key Words and synonyms:

Industrial Revolution Social Reforms
Textile Labor Unions


Child Labor 
Mining Housing Conditions
Metallurgy Working Conditions
Railways Education

"industrial revolution" or mining and "labor unions" or reforms or housing or "child labor"

I encourage you to analyze your topic first, because you may not be lucky to find a book or article exactly on your topic. But once you know what concepts you are looking for, it will be very easy to search the concepts as keywords when you use the library catalog or article databases to find what you want.

Using Boolean Search

Using Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) can make your search much more effective.

Please watch this video tutorial below:

This video was produced by Western University Libraries.