Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Expos 20 | Republic or Empire? Debating Imperialism in U.S. History

Resources and Research Strategies for Essay 3


This resource guide has been designed for students in Republic or Empire?  a Fall 2021 Expos 20 class taught by Ariane Liazos.

The resources and strategies described on this page are specifically targeted: they represent our first best guesses at where you might find easy and more-or-less-comprehensive access to both the scholarly conversations and primary documents upon which your term project will be built.

Remember that good research is often about following up on hunches, testing out a hypothesis and then seeing where else (or to what else) it leads. You may need to try several search combinations before you strike gold. 

Let me know if questions arise at any point in your project. We'll triage by email or set up a time to meet on Zoom for a longer conversation about your work.  

Enjoy your research adventures!

Sue Gilroy, Librarian for Undergraduate Programs for Writing, Lamont Library, Room 210

Image above, right: War Map Publishing Company, and F. H. Taylor. Strategic map of our war with Spain. [S.l, 1898] Map.


HOLLIS in a Nutshell



1.  Understand what HOLLIS is.

HOLLIS combines the extensive contents of our library catalog, the record every item owned by every Harvard Library with those of another, large and multidisciplinary database of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles. 

When you search "everything"  -- the system default --  your results represent content from both databases together, at once.  You can make different choices, however before or after you execute a search, if you want to view "library catalog" content separately.

2. Know how to work HOLLIS.

Creating search strings with some of the techniques below can help you get better results up front. 



3. Take control of your HOLLIS results.

While the broad and panoramic approach to searching HOLLIS can be mind-opening, you can sometimes find yourself overwhelmed by either the numbers or types of results your search returns.

When that happens, try one of these easy tricks:


  Limit your Everything search results set just to the items listed in the LIBRARY CATALOG.

Your numbers will immediately get smaller. Keep in mind, though, that the results will be heavily weighted toward book-length studies.


  Limit your Everything search results set to items that are identified as PEER REVIEWED ARTICLES.

You'll eliminate newspaper and magazine materials as well as books, of course, but you'll also raise the visibility of scholarly journal articles in what displays. 


  Think about limiting your results to publications from the last 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.

By doing so you'll get a snapshot of the most recent research trends and scholarly approaches in a field (or around a particular issue).




Scan and Deliver

When an article you find in HOLLIS is not owned at Harvard, or is available in a printed journal volume but not online, you can ask us to make a PDF for you through a service called Scan and Deliver.

We'll send you an email when it's ready for downloading, typically between 1 and 4 days after you place the request. Scan and Deliver is a free service to Harvard affiliates.

Scan and Deliver is also an option if you want up to two chapters of any Harvard-owned book digitized for your use.  


What should you do if a book you find in HOLLIS and want to use is:

  • checked out to someone else;
  • declared missing or lost  in the catalog record you are looking at (alas, it happens);
  • on order (that is, coming into the library collection but not yet arrived at Harvard); or
  • in process (that is, it's arrived at Harvard but some final things are being done to get it read for the "stacks," our word for the library shelves)?

In every one of these cases,  open the full item record and look for the BORROW DIRECT option toward the bottom of the screen (under the GET IT information and just before the call number). Follow the prompts from there.

We'll get a copy of the book for you, within 4 days, from another university library. 

If the item is "in process" we'll expedite the process of getting the book ready for use and you'll be quickly notified by email. 




Special Databases for Locating Backgrounds

  • American National Biography (ANB): an authoritative source for detailed biographical essays about major figure in U.S. history.  One nice feature is that is also identifies where papers and primary source materials are held and some key secondary sources about the individual's life and achievement. 

History Databases: Exploring Beyond HOLLIS

  • America: History and Life: the premier database for scholarship on the United States and Canada. 
  • JSTOR: a trusted collection of core academic journals, including in history. 

Uncovering Primary Sources for Essay 3




  • Sometimes, adding the word sources to a keyword string will retrieve published collections of primary source materials.  Other words that you can try include reader document* (for documents and documentary); readeranthologycasebook

  • Using the right side limits, adjust the DATE PARAMETERS of your search results. Items that were published on the subject during the period you specify will qualify as primary sources.  

  • Using the right side limits, examine the FORM/GENRE categories. Items that have been tagged with words like "interviews," "autobiography," "memoir," "speeches," "photographs," "correspondence" (and so on) might help you target various kinds of primary sources.

  • Look for a biography of the individual you're interested in. Full-length biographies are chock full of primary source references -- from shopping lists to letters to contemporary reviews and perceptions. Some of these will be in archives and impossible for you to reach given the constraints of the term; others will be republished and can be easily obtained for you  by other means. 




Its coverage is from 1740-1940. It includes special interest and historically significant general magazines, like Harper's Bazaar

A searchable digital collection of newspapers -- many local -- between 1777-1963. The LOC has created a page on the Spanish American War which includes an outline of events and strategies for searching the newspaper collections. 

Search across the contents of major U.S. dailies, including the New York TimesWashington Post,  Los Angeles TimesBaltimore Sun, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal and many more. 

Contents of many of the most important and highest-circulating general interest and public opinion magazines published in the U.S. and Canada for much of the 20th century.




A source for historical and current full-text access to legislation, hearings, witness testimony, legislative and committee reports, and more.







Creating Citations for Your Expos Paper


In your time at Harvard, you'll hear more than one librarian  suggest that you use Zotero, a "citation management tool."  Zotero will be great for big projects that require you to keep track of many sources -- like junior tutorials and senior theses (if you end up writing one).  

In the meantime, we recommend you generate citations with ZoteroBib

It's more reliable than the internal HOLLIS citation generator and you don't need an account or special software to use it.  Some of its handy features are described on this page.

Next semester, or next year, you might want to graduate into using Zotero itself.  It will take the process of collecting and organizing sources and  incorporating footnotes or in-text citations to the next level. 

A good guide, if you're interested, is available here: