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HIST 391: The Stuff of Everyday Life: Finding Books

Reference Books

Why Use Refernce Books?

  • Reference material is a great place to find background information
  • Shows how a topic fits into a broader subject or discipline
  • Helps you to know if there is enough or too much information on a topic
  • Provides access to the specific vocabulary which serves as keywords for searching
  • Often contains bibliographies which point to key resources and experts to consult


Material culture in America: understanding everyday life. Ref.  GN560.U6 M37 2008

History of design: decorative arts and material culture, 1400-2000. Ref. NK600 .H57 2013 

World of a slave : encyclopedia of the material life of slaves in the United States , 2 vols., Ref. E441 .W895 2011

American decades , 10 vols., Ref. E169.12 .A419 1994

Books: a step-by-step guide

Books: A Step-by-Step Guide

1.) Library OneSearch

  • Search by Keyword (use boolean logic)
  • Find and Use Subject Headings
  • Browse the shelves by Call Number

2.) e-Books and Online Texts

  • search by keyword, full-text, author, and more
  • download or read online. (review Quickstart Guide for instructions)

3.) MeLCat

  • Search by Keyword
  • Find and Use Subject Headings
  • About MeLCat

4.) Western Michigan's Library (duplicated in MeLCat, but if you want your materials faster, just walk to WMU!)

5.) Interlibrary Loan

  • Search by Keyword
  • Find and Use Subject Headings
  • Order item through ILLiad - Interlibrary Loan

Using Subject Headings

Search by Keyword and look for Subject Headings in individual records.
To modify a search:

  • Use words from the Subject Heading in a Keyword search
  • Click on the Subject Heading itself

Examples of Subject Headings:

Material Culture United States

Families Southern States History 19th Century

United States Social Life And Customs

Subject Guide

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