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History Subject Guide: Find Books

Trent University Library History Subject Guide

Catalogue Search

Click on the link below to search our catalogue.

Other Catalogues

What is Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary loan is a system that allows you to request material from other libraries to be sent to Trent for you to borrow. Normally, there are no costs to use the ILL service. Plan ahead because it can take a few days or even weeks for material to be sent, depending upon availability.

Visit the RACER (ILL) page for more information.

Finding Books In the Library

TOPCAT search or browse

TOPCAT Power Search

When you want to find books in the Trent Library, search TOPCAT (the Library Catalogue). There's an online tutorial available to tell you about TOPCAT.

Use a keyword search to find items on a topic. For instance, to find books on "Canadian troops at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in World War I" you might search for "canad$ and vimy".

Terminology Notes:

TOPCAT uses LCSH (subject headings) in most records, to help us identify items of interest. These can be general or specific, depending on your topic.

Sample subject headings for general topics:

Canada--History
Great Britain--History
Indians of North America
Unites States--History
World War, 1914-1918
World War, 1939-1945

The TOPCAT tutorials in the box to the right are an excellent starting point to learn search basics. In the boxes below there are some search tips for locating specific types of resources used by historians.

Finding Primary Material Using the Catalogue

Primary sources are original, first-hand materials such as:

  • government documents, public records, statistics
  • letters, diaries, manuscripts
  • interviews, eye-witness accounts
  • political cartoons, newspaper announcements and articles
  • photographs, artwork
  • maps, charts
  • meeting minutes
  • songs, or original works of literature

Once you start searching the catalogue regularly you should notice patterns that appear as a result of the strict use of Library of Congress cataloguing rules. Here are some search terms you can include in a keyword search to help narrow down results to primary material:

  • sources
  • documents
  • diary or diaries
  • personal narratives

Personal narratives is a useful search term because cataloguers add it as part of the subject heading for items containing personal reflections of those involved in historical events. Thus, a search on personal narratives will find more than just diaries. Click on Go to see for yourself.

Know How Historical Periods and Events Are Catalogued

It is crucial that you pay close attention to how certain events, time periods, historical figures, etc. are treated by cataloguers. Often the same event can have different names. For example, the First World War was referred to as the Great War or World War until 1939 when the Second World War began. Now it is usually called World War I or WWI. For the sake of consistency cataloguing rules dictate that items about WWI will be assigned the subject heading World War, 1914-1918. Likewise, WWII or World War Two or Second World War will be assigned the subject heading World War, 1939-1945. You can use this knowledge to your advantage when searching the catalogue by doing a subject headings keyword search and a second search term anywhere.

Another example of the importance of terminology is Medieval. Medieval times are also referred to as the Middle Ages. Medieval also has a British spelling of Mediaeval. Although Medieval has become the more accepted use, you want to also search using the British spelling to ensure you find as many resources as possible. Click Go in the examples below to see the difference. Look at a few detailed catalogue records to see why you get those results.

  

 

This is why in a catalogue search you would want to do a search using all three terms.

medieval OR mediaeval OR "middle ages"

 

Tutorial: TOPCAT, the Library Catalogue

This tutorial shows how to find out what's in the Trent Library, using TOPCAT.