Skip to Main Content

ENG 336: American Renaissance (Fall 2021): Finding Secondary Sources

About Secondary Sources

Before you settle on a thesis for your paper, you will need to explore the possibilities a particular author and work provide for thinking about connections between humans and the natural world. The good news - it's wide open! The bad news - you'll have to narrow your focus. You'll get your main idea from the text itself, but for this paper you'll take your interpretation and add in what you can learn from at least two other sources about either the author or work you're focused on or sources about the themes or issues your interpretation draws out. Browse around and see what's out there as your thesis begins to firm up.

You can also use the Environmental Studies research guide for additional suggestions on places to search.

Learn more about finding Articles and Choosing Sources.

Finding Books

Books are shelved in general subject categories using the Library of Congress classification system. You may want to supplement your use of the catalog with browsing shelf areas for your topic.

Gustavus Library's General, Reference, and Special Collections can be searched in the catalog.

Search for Books, Music, Videos & More

Advanced search · Books, videos, and music

Quotation Marks

Put phrases in quotation marks to search for the entire phrase.

Searching for native american will find results with the word "native" or the word "american."

Searching for "native american" will find results about Native Americans.

Boolean Operators

Boolean (BOO-LEE-IN) operators are another useful way to refine your search.

Put the word AND (in ALL-CAPS) between two keywords and your search will pull up only results that have *both* keywords.

Put the word OR (in ALL-CAPS) between two keywords and your search will pull up results that have either one keyword, or the other, or both.

Searching by Location

If you only want to search the Reference section, you can do a search such as the following.

Your Topic Keyword AND b8:reference

For example: Desegregation AND b8:reference

Other searchable sections include: audio visual, periodicals, oversize, and general collection.


Once you are on the results page, you can limit a search by checking the filter boxes on the left hand side.

Some ways to filter include:

  • language 
  • format (e.g. DVD)
  • date published 
  • author and subject

You can also check the box for Minitex and Worldcat to search larger networks of libraries. If you need a book from another library, click into the record, click the "Request from another library" box, and submit the form that auto-populates.

Finding Scholarly Articles

For your assignment, you will need to find scholarly journal articles, also called peer-reviewed or refereed articles. These articles are written by scholars who are experts in their field, and reviewed by their peers (other scholars who are also experts in the field) before publication. Scholarly articles are one of the ways that academics, like your professor, share and discuss their research. Peer review is a way to ensure that the information in academic articles is reputable.

You can find articles from scholarly journals in the databases that the library subscribes to. On this page, you will find a few databases that will be most helpful for this class.

When you have an article with references, you can see if a particular reference is available by looking the journal's name up at the link below. Then you can use the volume and date information to navigate to the article. If we don't have access to that journal, we usually can get it from another library.

It's like Amazon, but without the bills! If we don't have a book or article you want, request it through Interlibrary Loan.

We made a short video to show you how it works.

The Tracking Down Materials tab above has more details on how to request items from ILL, too.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License