Database of the Week: America History and Life

America: History and Life is a database that provides comprehensive coverage of the United States ad Canada from prehistory to the present. The content in the database includes over 325, 000 articles; 163,000 book reviews and 750 media reviews, which include films shown on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and PBS. Documentaries and popular films with historical themes are also included. There are over 1100 collections, which are books and book chapters; and 60,000 plus dissertations and theses. There are links to full-text providers such as: EBSCOHost’s database Academic Search Premier; H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online (http://www.h-net.org/reviews/), which provides scholarly reviews of books and media; History Cooperative (http://www.historycooperative.org/journals.html), which contains the full-text of the American Historical Review, the Journal of American History and other journal titles. Full-text can also be accessed by checking in Journal Finder to see if the journal is in full-text in another database, such as Blackwell Synergy.

The database provides a basic search screen and an advanced search screen. The basic search screen provides a choice to search broadly by “Keywords” or to do a more focused search using “Subject Terms.” The subject terms can be browsed directly by clicking on the book symbol. Browsing the subject terms can help a person focus their search on a time period, person, group or specific event in history. Each record in the database contains assigned subject terms which can be selected and searched.

There are several “Search Fields” in the basic search: author, title, language, journal, publication date, time period and entry number. In the “Advanced Search” one can browse not only the “Subject Terms.” but also the “Authors/Editors,” the “Languages,” “Journal Names,” and “Time Periods.” One can also view their “Search History” to see the sets they have created and these search strategies can be saved under a personal profile. Any records that are marked or tagged will be saved under a “Personal List,” for the session’s duration, which can later be displayed, emailed or printed. “Display Options” allows one to change the order in which results are displayed and the number viewed on a screen.

A great feature in the database is the ability to register and create a “Personal Profile. For FSU affiliated persons, your “username” should be your FSU email address (i.e ImABronco@uncfsu.edu). You will then see a screen that allows you to set up your profile and create and store your search strategies, which can then be run in the database. You are also able to export your records into RefWorks, EndNote, ProCite or Reference Manager.

Another great feature in the database is called “CLIO Notes.” This feature provides an easy way for persons using the database to see how content is organized and what available resources there are for the different time periods and events within US History. One is able to browse through these chronologies and read brief summaries of the significant events and themes in American history. The chronology starts with “1493-1700, Colonization of America” to “1980-2001, Entering the 21st Century.” A detailed chronology is provided for each time period. Then there are summative essays, which provide a discussion of what was taking place during the time period and suggestions for papers or further research. For example, “The Colonization of America: Exploration and Settlement: The Spanish” is one such essay. There within the essay is the basic search box, a list of the “Subject Terms” which can be selected and searched, and the material types, which can also be selected.

I urge anyone who is interested in United States and Canadian history to explore the great features provided in America: History and Life.

Jan S. Whitfield,
Head of Public Services and Reference

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