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HIST 3695 - American City

Professor Georgina Hickey's American City Course (online) HIST 3695

Secondary Source - Defined

A Secondary source is defined as:  A source that discusses a prior event from an academic or research or layperson perspective.  The key here is that the resource is from some time after the event.  An example of this would be a book about the American Civil War or an article in a journal publication discussing the importance of the Battle of Gettysburg.  A book will NOT typically be a primary resource unless it is a compilation of letters or diary entries or documents.  

Background reading - Encyclopedias and Handbooks

Background reading

Learn a little about your city with background sources first, using encyclopedias or handbooks.  You would not use these in your final paper as a source, but these may give you ideas on cities, city neighborhoods or districts of interest.



Locate books


Locate books from the library catalog.  Search for your topic, one or more words (any word(s) that can describe you topic) or by subject .  

For subject searches change to the "Subject" box in the catalog.  Type in a single word.  You will see a list of sub headings that you can search as well.


  • Neighborhood and (name of a state) = Neighborhood and Illinois
  • Name of a city and state = New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Location and city = Lower east side New York  
  • Metropolitan cities
  • Urban cities

Other terms:  urbanization, urban history

Additional library catalogs and interlibrary loan

  • UM Ann Arbor
  • MeLCat
  • Interlibrary loan ("ILL")

If our library does not own a book that you need, there are other choices:

  • First, try the UM Ann Arbor library catalog.  Their catalog of books is much more expansive; you can search the various collections of several libraries within UM.  You can even borrow materials that will be sent to this campus.  See our Interlibrary loan page for more information.
  • Another service is MeLCat. MeLCat allows you to borrow books from libraries (academic and public) from around the state (including UM-Ann Arbor). 
  • Finally, if something you need is not available from the our library, UM Ann Arbor's libraries, or MeLCat, try Interlibrary Loan ("ILL"), a service that borrows books and other materials from libraries throughout the U.S. 

Locate Scholarly Articles - library article databases

The databases listed below will help you locate scholarly articles as well as book reviews on your topic.  If you find a good book review on your topic, check if we have the book using our library catalog, the UM library catalog or MeLCat .

One Search

Search all library materials (books, articles, media) at one time.  In the "Search " box on the library's web page, type in any word that matches the topic you are looking for.

You can refine your search results by year, additional subjects, search only book, journals, newspapers, etc. using the "Refine" feature on the left of the results screen.


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