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CSI 139: Writing the Urban Experience

General Tips

Familiar journalistic questions can help you focus your search:

Who: Are you looking for information about an individual? A group? Are there institutions, companies, associations, government agencies, teams, venues whose names you can search?

What: Can you relate your object of inquiry to a genre, cultural history, art form, event, or larger category (e.g., riots, strikes, epidemics)? Thinking about these terms can help you find secondary sources. For example, doing a search for epidemics new york can help you locate collections on the history of epidemics in NYC.

When: Knowing the date of an event, or even a decade or era, can help you determine what databases to search, or whether you'll look for historic or contemporary news reporting or images. Knowing a specific date can also help you narrow the coverage you'll find in major papers like the NY Times.

Where: Geographic terms can be meaningful search terms at many levels: street, neighborhood, city, region, state, etc. For example, if you were doing research on post-Katrina New Orleans, it would be good to search for information on New Orleans as well as on the Ninth Ward.

Where can also refer to where information about your topic might be published. Who would collect and share information about it? Are there specific kinds of resources you might want to find that relate to your research question (e.g., playbills, posters, historic street maps, audio recordings)?

Searching for archival collections

• Use Archive Grid to discover where there are archival collections related to your topic. If a source you find has been digitized, you will see a link to the source on the page of descriptive information about it.

• Try an internet search using language to describe your topic plus the phrase primary sources, e.g., bounce "New Orleans" "primary sources"