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HIST 150: Transatlantic Slave Trade (Spring 2024)

Where to Start

The W&M Libraries have a staggering number of databases. For this class, I suggest our two specialized databases for History. These are America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts. These databases are specially designed for historical research and include all the major history journals. They also pull e-journals from JSTOR, Project Muse, and other e-journal bundles so you don't need to search those too.

If you're ever unsure were to start, you can look at our full database list, which is organized by subject. Every major, minor, and program has a guide that helps you decide where to start. 

Why Use Subject Database?

Compare these 3 searches for economic* AND "atlantic slave trade"

America: History and Life gives the fewest results, but they are much more in line with what we want.

Googlescholar provides about 40,000 results we can't really skim through or narrow.

PRIMO provides a few hundred results, many of which aren't directly related to our topic.

Let databases work for you

Databases are designed to help you:

  1. find articles on your topic
  2. find more articles on the same topic.

Example, if you're interested in "runaway slave" ads in newspapers and find "Reading the Runaways: Self-Fashioning, Print Culture, and Confidence in Slavery in the Eighteenth-Century Mid Atlantic", look up the article in America: History and Life and use the subject headings to find more articles.

You can also look up the article in googlescholar to see who has cited it since publication.

Example Searches in America: History & Life for peer reviewed articles

Using out step-by-step guide from the previous tab, let's try practice searches for:

  • (Cause* OR reasons* OR motiv*) AND (abolish OR abolition) AND "slave trade"
  • Economic* AND "slave trade"
  • ​​​​​​​Virginia* AND (abolition* OR abolish*) AND "slave trade"​​​​​​​
  • "Social Death" AND "slave Trade"
  • "Slave trade" AND african* AND culture*​​​​​​​
  • "Slave trade" AND (enslaved OR slave* OR african*) AND (revolts OR resistance)
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​women AND (enslaved OR African) AND "Slave trade"

NOTE: these searches will not be perfect and will require revision as we search. If results are poor, we might also try the same search in Historical Abstracts, which has slightly different journal coverage.