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HIUS 1501: American Disasters From Cholera to Katrina

Searching Virgo

Introductory/Background Information

Subject encyclopedias can provide detailed and authoritative background information that can help you to begin your research. The articles can define terms, give an overview of a topic and suggest directions for narrowing your research. They can also provide bibliographies of books and articles for more in-depth research.

Encyclopedia of disasters : environmental catastrophes and human tragedies. 2008. 2 volumes. Brown Science and Engineering Library. GB5014 .G86 2008.

Encyclopedia of terrorist, natural, and man-made disasters. 2006. Brown Science and Engineering Library. T55.3 .H3 G742 2006.


CQ Researcher - 1991-present In depth reports on selected issues in the news with lists of recommended books and articles.

Finding Scholarly Articles

America History and Life  Covers the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to present with records from 2,000 English-language journals published worldwide. Includes book reviews.

                                             Search = influenza     Historical Period = 1918-1918

JSTOR  Full-text backfiles of many important scholarly journals. Coverage is usually from the first issue to 3-5 years before the present. Advanced Search gives you more control over your search results.

                      Advance Search = "polio epidemic"     Item Type = articles      Date Range = 1930-1960

Google Scholar A useful free index to scholarly literature. "Cited by" can show more recent articles that have used a source of interest. "Related articles" also provides links to additional sources. In Settings, you can create "access links" for the University of Virginia Library (Find@UVA).

Academic Search Complete  Large general database of articles from scholarly journals, as well as a few newspapers and magazines, covering a wide range of topics.
                                                                 Search = "Love Canal"

US History in Context  Collection of articles from over 200 journals and several hundred historical encyclopedias covering the social and political history of the U.S. Some primary source material also included. An excellent resource for getting an overview of a topic or issue

                                                                Search = cholera

Finding Books and Other Primary Sources

VIRGO-- The U.Va. Library Catalog 

Keyword search should be "Google-like," just enter whatever terms you want; no need for connectors like and.
Will search the title, author's name or description of the item.

There are also some Subject terms that indicate primary source materials: 

Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.
Personal narratives (used in relation to specific events only) 
Songs and music
Speeches, addresses, etc.*

*Used with individuals' names,classes of persons (e.g., soldiers), and organizations.

Google Books Searches the full text of thousands of books. If used in conjunction with full text search of a book, can get most of the text of a book. 

North American Women's Letters and Diaries  Searchable full text database of American and Canadian women's letters and diaries written from the Colonial period through 1950.

Proquest Congressional Publications Searchable, full text collection of U.S. government documents, including treaties, laws, and Congressional reports. Use Advanced Search, and notice date coverage for different types of documents.

CQ Weekly 1983-present In depth coverage of the U.S. Congress: status of bills, votes and amendments, floor and committee activity, and backroom maneuvering.


Historical Newspapers and Magazines

America's Historical Newspapers, 1690-1922  Searchable full text collection of U.S. newspapers from the colonial period to the early 20th century. But also Includes substantial  20th century coverage for the New Orleans "Times-Picayune" (1837-1988), Cleveland "Plain Dealer" (1923-1991), and Portland "Oregonian" (1907-1987). Can limit by place.

                                           Search = Titanic       Date Range = 4/12/1912 - 12/31/1912

 Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers  Searchable full text and page images of several hundred U.S. newspapers from the 19th century. You can limit your search to particular states or cities.
                                           Search = financial panic           Limit by Date = 1893-1896

ProQuest Historical Newspapers  New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Defender, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Norfolk Journal and Guide, Pittsburgh Courier, NY Amsterdam News, Baltimore Afro-American, and Washington Post.

                           Los Angeles Times:    Advance Search =  San Francisco AND earthquake
Date Range = April 18, 1906 - May 1, 1906

 ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Black Newspapers  A subset of the larger ProQuest Historical Newspapers, this is acollection of several prominent black newspapers including the Chicago Defender, Norfolk Journal and Guide, Pittsburgh Courier, Baltimore Afro-American, and NY Amsterdam News

Ethnic NewsWatch   Full-text of newspaper, magazine, and journal articles from 200 ethnic, minority, and native publications in the U.S.  Coverage back to 1959.
                      Advanced Search = Hurricane Katrina AND racism     Date Range = August 29,2005 - September 30, 2005


LexisNexis Academic News and business information from sources around the world.  Includes many newspapers. Coverage usually does not begin before the mid-1980's. [Includes the Richmond Times Dispatch from November 1995 to the present. Using the Virgo's Journal Finder option, type Richmond Times-Dispatch in the "e-journals only" search box and then click on the Lexis link. Also on microfilm.]           

                                                Search = Katrina and FEMA and criticism     
                                                Advance Option:  Date from 8/28/2005 to 10/31/2005       Content Type = Newspapers

Factiva An alternative--possibly a better--source for newspaper articles from late 1970s-present.Search form allows for relatively uncomplicated precision in searching. Articles from over 6,000 US and international newspapers and periodicals, plus company and business information. Only database to contain the Wall Street journal.

 Periodicals Archive Online  Search the full text of nearly 400 international humanities and social sciences journals published from 1770 to the 1990's.
                                                      Search = "atomic bomb"  and "civil defense"

American Periodicals Series  Full text of over 1,000 magazines and journals published in the U.S. between 1740 and 1940.

                                             Advance Search = "cholera epidemic"    Publication Date = 1840-1880

US Newspapers in Microform Search by state, or by state and dates, to find which newspapers we have on microfilm. 

Indexing of Virginia newspapers is spotty, but there is one index you can use: Richmond Times Dispatch and Richmond News Leader are indexed in the microfiche Freeman File Index for the period 1920's-1985 [located in the Periodicals/Microforms Room, Shannon 3rd Floor.  Staff there can assist you.]  The Freeman Index is online for the period between the 1940's-1985 at  


Google Image  Introduced in  2001, Google Image allows users to search the web for image content.

                                     Search = Titanic wreck

LIFE Image Archive  Contains over one million images from the archives of LIFE magazine, many of which never appeared in print. Images date from as early as the 1750s. The archive is hosted by Google.   

         Browse by Decade: 1930's  Click on Great Depression of the 1930's / View All Images / Scroll across top to Dust Bowl

 American History in Video     Over 5000 films, commercial and governmental newsreels, archival footage, public affairs footage, and documentaries showing historical events and their presentation over time. 

                                                     Search = San Francisco earthquake  

WSLS-TV News Film Collection, 1951-1971

This collection contains both news reels and scripts from WSLS-TV in Roanoke, VA. These mid-20th century broadcasts were given to the University of Virginia Library for preservation and use. The resulting collection spans 1951 to 1971 and comprises approximately 13,000 clips of 16mm film shown during news programs. It also contains roughly 18,000 pages of the accompanying scripts read on air by anchorpersons.