HIST 137AC: Repeopling America

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About this Guide

Researching family history within the larger context of American immigration/migration history

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The UCB Library sponsors the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research.  Win $1000 (upper division students) or $750 (lower division students) for your research paper!

This guide has been archived

Please note: this course guide was created during a previous semester, and is no longer being actively maintained. For a list of current course guides, please see http://lib.berkeley.edu/alacarte/course-guides.

Finding Background Information

The following titles are just examples of sources for background information  on immigration topics and on specific immigrant groups.  For more sources, search Oskicat by subject, including specific ethnic groups (ex:  indians of north america encyclopedias, mexican americans dictionaries), browse the reference collections of Doe Library (2nd floor) or the Ethnic Studies Library, or ask for assistance.  Remember to search broadly - if you are not finding reference sources on vietnamese americans, search more broadly (ex:  asian american* encyclopedias).

Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups  (1980)

Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America (2000)

Encyclopedia of Immigration and Migration in the American West (2006)

Encyclopedia of American Immigration (2001)

We the People: an Atlas of America's Ethnic Diversity   (1988)

Atlas of American diversity (1998)

Search Oskicat by keyword ethnic chronology series for a series of chronologies of the history of specific ethnic groups (Czechs, Filipinos, etc.) The titles are from the 1970's and not every group is represented but still a useful starting place for some ethnic groups.


To find books, DVDs, maps, sound recordings, manuscripts, and much more - everything except articles - use a library catalog.

OskiCat = most UC Berkeley libraries

MELVYL = all UC campus libraries, including all UC Berkeley libraries

What's the difference?  more details here

For each item make sure you know the name of the physical library, call number, and whether or not it's checked out, library use only, etc.

Call numbers are on the spine of the book; learn how to read them so you can find what you need on the shelves.

Searching OskiCat

Examples of search terms:

polish american* history
arab american* women

cuban american* migration
african american* great migration
african american* chicago
chinese california
hmong united states
hmong american*
navajo identity
irish san francisco
jew* boston

* = truncation symbol/wildcard for variant word endings
ex:  immigra* = immigrant, immigrants, immigrating, immigration, etc.

Try out these OskiCat features:

SMS and QR Codes in OskiCat

You can now text yourself a call number or use a QR code reader to find the location of an item in the UCB Library. Just click on a title in your OskiCat search results, and both options will be displayed on the right.

SMS and QR image

Article Databases

Search an article database to find citations (title, author, title of journal, date, page numbers) for articles on a particular topic.  The Library gives you access to over 200 article databases covering different disciplines.

1.  Think about which academic disciplines might write about your topic.  Examples:  literature, film, anthropology, history...

2.  Find the appropriate article database by subject (academic discipline or department).  Look for "Recommended" databases.

Library home > Articles > Article Databases by Subject

3.  You may need databases that cover diffferent types of materials - historical or ethnic newspapers, congressional information, primary sources, etc:

Library home > Electronic Resources > Electronic Resources, Types A-Z >

Secondary Sources - History

Secondary Sources - Area Studies

Newspaper databases - Contemporary

Searching - Examples

 To search, break your topic into components.  Enter one word or phrase (two or more words together) per row of search boxes.  Use as few terms as possible.

Narrowing:  think about places, people or groups, time periods, aspects or events that might help you narrow your topic

(* = truncation/wildcard symbol:  immigra* retrieves immigrant, immigrants, immigration, immigrating...some databases use a different symbol - consult Help screens)


Library home > Articles > Article Databases by Subject > H > History > America:  History and Life

california   (select a field - optional)

indian* or native*  (select a field - optional)

statut* or legal or law*  (select a field - optional)

historical period:  year 1840 to 1900

Library home > Articles > General Article Databases > JSTOR

REMEMBER:  JSTOR doesn't include articles from the last 3-5 years!!!

Advanced Search

1.  immigra*


2.  to narrow your search further, add another search term, or try searching for your terms in the titles of the articles:

immigra*   (item title)

irish (item title)

advanced search also allows you to limit to certain years of publication (1980-2010, for example), to specific disciplines (ex:  African American studies) etc.


Search Results

UC-eLinks - Find Article Text/Location

Once you've searched a database to find articles, you may need to use UC-eLinks orange logo to link to a PDF or html file if the full text is not immediately available. Each database is a bit different, but a good rule of thumb is this: when you see the Uc-eLinks icon click on it to view your article access options, which can range from full text to a call number to an Interlibrary Loan request:

UC e-Links image

For more information, here's a tutorial on using UC-eLinks.

Primary Sources

Primary sources can be found in a variety of library tools:

For specific search strategies, see the Library's Guide to Finding Historical Primary Sources

Learn more about your topic in advance:

Use the bibliographies of secondary sources and reference sources to find citations to specific primary sources; search OskiCat to locate them on campus, or ask for assistance at the Library.

Searching OskiCat for Primary Sources

Search OskiCat for primary sources using keywords and adding terms that denote primary sources, such as:

-personal narratives


puerto rican* interviews
african american soldiers personal narratives
irish american* newspapers

Searching Article Databases for Primary Sources

Library home > Electronic Resources > Electronic Resources Types A-Z > Archival Collections and Primary Source Databases > Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)

advanced (tab)

negro*  (citation and document text)

freeman (citation and document text)

immigra* (citation and document text)

from:  1/1/1870  12/31/1910

Watch the movie version!  (1 min 45 sec)

Note:  if you aren't finding enough, think of new terms, or think more broadly:

mendez v. westminster = 0 results

try instead:

school*  (citation and document text)

segregat* (citation and document text)

mexican* (citation and document text)

from:  1/1/1945   12/31/1948


Primary Source Databases

This list represents resources available from the Library's collection of digital archival collection and primary source databases that may be useful to you. Depending on your topic, you may find other resources on that list more helpful.

Foreign Relations of the United States


Primary Sources on the Internet

Just a few examples of what's out there - but be careful to evaluate what you find!

American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library

Consists of more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical Library of Congress collections. The primary source and archival materials relating in the project cover topics from art and architecture to performing arts to technology and applied sciences.

American Slave: A Composite Autobiography
A digitized collection of over 2,300 narratives of former slaves. Interviews were conducted by writers and journalists as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s.

American Social History Online
Provides access to 175 digitized library collections related to U.S. social history.

Chronicling America
This site allows users to search and view newspaper pages from 1880-1910 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. To date, over 200,000 pages of California newspapers have been digitized.
Chronology of U.S. Historical Documents
Includes the text of more than 100 historic US documents from the Magna Carta and the Mayflower Compact to the Truman Doctrine and the "I Have a Dream" speech.

James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center
Gateway to collections documenting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered history and culture, emphasizing the San Francisco Bay Area. Part of the San Francisco Public Library

Selected Historical Decennial Census Population and Census Counts. Contains historical census data from 1790-1860, 1990 & 2000; historical census statistics on the foreign-born. Print copies of the US Census (1790-2000) located in North Reading Room, 2nd floor, Doe Library, gref section, HA201 call number

Immigration... the Changing Face of America. Library of Congress collection. An introduction to the study of immigration to the United States

Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930. Web-based collection of selected historical materials documenting immigration to the US from the Harvard libraries

Making of America (Cornell University)
Access to 267 monograph volumes and over 100,000 journal articles from 22 journals with 19th century imprints. The collection is particularly strong in the areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. Making of America is a collaboration between the libraries of Cornell University and the University of Michigan to document American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction by drawing upon the primary materials at these two institutions. The Michigan site is available at: http://www.hti.umich.edu/m/moagrp/

Making of America (University of Michigan)
Access to 9,500 books and almost 2500 digitized issues of 12 journals published in the 19th century. The collection is particularly strong in the areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. Making of America is a collaboration between the libraries of Cornell University and the University of Michigan to document American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction by drawing upon unique primary materials held at each institution. The Cornell site is available at: http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/index.html

Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools help you manage your research, collect and cite sources, organize and store your PDFs, and create bibliographies in a variety of citation styles.  Each one has its strengths and weaknesses, but all are easier than doing it by hand!

  1. Zotero: A free plug-in for the Firefox browser: keeps copies of what you find on the web, permits tagging, notation, full text searching of your library of resources, works with Word, and has a free web backup service. Zotero is also available as a stand-alone application that syncs with Chrome and Safari, or as a bookmarklet for mobile browsers.
  2. RefWorks - web-based and free for UC Berkeley users. It allows you to create your own database by importing references and using them for footnotes and bibliographies, then works with Word to help you format references and a bibliography for your paper. Use the RefWorks New User Form to sign up.
  3. EndNote: Desktop software for managing your references and formatting bibliographies. You can purchase EndNote from the Cal Student Store

Tip: After creating a bibliography with a citation management tool, it's always good to double check the formatting; sometimes the software doesn't get it quite right.

Online introductions to Genealogy

I don't pretend to know whether these guides are good or not but they seem useful.  You need to evaluate them for yourself (and don't spend any money!)

About.com:  Introduction to Genealogy

Researching Your Family Tree

Knol:  Introduction to Genealogy ("Knol is a Google project that aims to include user-written articles on a range of topics.")

Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet

Guides to Family History (books)

Asian American genealogical sourcebook (1995)

Ethnic genealogy, a resource guide (1983)

Finding Oprah's roots: finding your own (2007)

Black genesis:  a resource book for African American genealogy (2003)

Family pride:  the complete guide to tracing African American genealogy (1997)

A student's guide to Mexican American genealogy (1996)

Mexican-American genealogical research:  following the paper trail to Mexico (2002)

Native american genealogical sourcebook (1995)

Journal of American Indian family research (1980 - 1993)

For other titles, try an OskiCat search for keywords:  genealogy handbooks


Libraries and Library web sites

 Family Search - Free web resource for family history research. You can search by surname in death, birth SSI records

Oakland Regional Family History Center - Huge and very extensive genealogical research center that also includes access to HeritageQuest, Genealogy.com, Footnote. com, etc plus extensive collection of books, directories and local histories.

A few online resources, including how to prepare for a visit to the Family History Center.

National Archives - Pacific Region - Contains the records of the Western US (Northern & Central California, Hawaii, Nevada) and is especially good source for Asian Pacific immigration information

More about their genealogy resources

California State Library - Sutro - Hours and location (scroll down; always call first - State offices still on furlough)

This web page is a guide to the Genealogy resources of the California History room of the State Library - IN SACRAMENTO.  However, it may give you an idea of the kinds of genealogy resources that are out there.  You can call or e-mail Sutro to ask if they also have the same resources.  (Indirect, I know)



Google Research Tools

Google Scholar is an easy way to do interdisciplinary research, and with some settings changes can become even more useful.  You may need a Google account to use some of these features.

Open Scholar.  Click on scholar preferences [upper right corner]. Under Library Links, enter the word Berkeley.  Choose  UC Berkeley eLinks and Open WorldCat - Library Search and Save your preferences.  UC e-links will now appear in Google Scholar search results.

Do your search in Google Scholar. Look in the green toolbar for the envelope icon, and click it.  New items will be sent to your email account as they are found by Google.

Do a Google Scholar search. Click on the "Cited by" link under a citation and select the "Search within articles citing..." checkbox.

Google Scholar UC-eLinks Access

UC-eLinks in Google Scholar Preferences

It is possible to see links to full-text Library resources in Google Scholar search results, which helps you access items for free that you would otherwise have to pay for. To enable UC-eLinks in Scholar results from off campus or on a mobile/wireless device, take these steps:

Step 1: Make sure your Proxy server access is enabled by following the directions at http://proxy.lib.berkeley.edu/. When you get to a point where you are accessing resources that the Library pays for, you will be prompted for your CalNet ID and password. For more help see: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/doemoff/tutorials/proxy.html

Step 2: Change your “Scholar Preferences.” Access these by clicking on the link next to the search box.

Step 3: In search box next to "Library Links," type in University of California Berkeley and click on “Find Library”

Step 4: Check box next to "University of California Berkeley - UC-eLinks

Step 5: Click on "Save Preferences" at bottom of page

Ask a Librarian 24/7

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Research Advisory Service

Research Advisory Service for Cal Undergraduates

Book a 30-minute appointment with a librarian who will help refine and focus research inquiries, identify useful online and print sources, and develop search strategies for humanities and social sciences topics (examples of research topics).

Schedule, view, edit or cancel your appointment online (CalNetID required)

This service is for Cal undergraduates only. Graduate students and faculty should contact the library liaison to their department or program for specialized reference consultations.

Getting Help

Other ways to get help:  in person, by e-mail, using specialized chat services

And of course:  e-mail Corliss or email Theresa (Bancroft Library)

Corliss Wants Your Feedback!

Please take a few minutes to give me some feedback about the library workshop and this course page!  Anonymously, of course.


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