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WRTG 105 Contemporary Social Movements (O'Donnell): Targeted strategies to find specific material types

Primary vs. Secondary

PRIMARYOriginal materials that have not been filtered through interpretation or evaluation by a second party; this could include first-hand testimony or evidence of a topic under investigation.

SECONDARY Sources that contain commentary on, analysis, or a discussion about a primary source; these tend to be one or more steps removed from an actual event.

Finding subject specific databases

UR students have access to hundreds of databases so figuring out which one to start with can be a difficult decision. 

  1. To access Research Guides by Subject, go to the main library website,, click on Research, then choose Research Guides

2. Choose the subject that best aligns with your topic from the menu on the leftmost side of the screen.

subject guides

2) If you have a broad topic or period in history, you may experiment by searching broad terms under the database tab. You might be surprised by how specific some of our databases are.

Screen shot of database tab search for the topic, LGBTQ Screen shot of 1 database retrieved from a topic search on LGBTQ
Screen shot of database tab search with environment as the topic Screen shot of 6 databases retrieved from a search on the topic, environment
Screen shot of database tab search with topic of medieval Screen shot of 9 databases retrieved from a search on medieval

Screen shot of database search tab, searching for women as a topic

Screen shot of 19 databases retrieved from a search on women

Finding news articles

Search National Public Radio (NPR) through Google

Government information

.gov site search sit searh



Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Search for Archival Materials

ArchiveGrid - ArchiveGrid is a collection of over four million archival material descriptions, including MARC records from WorldCat and finding aids harvested from the web

Databases to help with historical primary sources

Before entering into any of these suggested databases, see how far back the publications go if you are looking to find materials written at the time of your chosen movement or topic.

In Worldcat, you can specify publication dates tied to your topic so that you retrieve materials written at the time of the event(s).

Screen shot of a Worldcat search, primary documents about the Ku Klux Klan

Screen shot of a Worldcat search, peasant rebellions in the middle ages

If we cannot access archival material held in another library's rare books collection, you can try to find a digitized collection through Google.

Screen shot of a Google search for digital collections, women's suffrage

Screen shot of Google results, digital collections for womens suffrage


Searching social media

Twitter/Social Media searches

Screen shot of a Google search for social media hashtags

Hashtags may not capture everything on your topic in Twitter, so use for more flexible searching.

Screen shot of a Twitter search on Kapaernick NFL

Screen shot of Twitter results for Kapaernick NFL

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