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Simpson | Stafford | Special Collections

History and American Studies: Navigating the Internet

A research guide to finding books, articles, and other resources in History and American Studies

Evaluating Websites

Criteria for evaluating websites include:

  • Accuracy
  • Authority
  • Coverage
  • Currency
  • Objectivity

Remember to examine websites carefully before using them for research purposes.  If you still aren't sure, ask a librarian or your professor for assistance.

Using Virtual Libraries

Virtual libraries . . .

♦  Provide directories of carefully selected Web resources.

♦  Include annotations (summaries) of the selected websites.

♦  Are usually maintained by librarians or other information specialists.

♦  Furnish the quality control that is lacking in web search engines.

Users can usually browse by subject or search.  For example, see:

Finding Dulcinea: Librarian of the Internet. (If the search feature does not work, try this link.)

See also the Library of Congress's Virtual Reference Shelf, which includes "selected online resources for research," and Alcove Nine: An Annotated List of Reference Websites.

Citing Your Sources

While writing research papers, you may need to:

  List your sources in bibliographies or works cited, and

♦  Provide either footnotes or endnotes.

Here is a link to the UMW Libraries' Guide to Citing Resources.

Navigation Menu

When looking for web resources related to any of the following topics, either click on these links or scroll down:

Directories and Guides


Virginia and United States


Google Tricks

Directories and Guides

Annotated links to more than 1,000 history websites.
Includes a U.S. history textbook, annotated documents and other primary sources, essays, oral histories, maps, timelines, and reference resources of annotated websites, chronologies, and glossaries.
"A gateway site for anyone studying the early modern period (c. 1500-1800 CE).
The History Highway: A 21st Century Guide to Internet Resources
REFB D 16.255 .C65 H58 2006
Produced by the Triangle Legal History Seminar, "a regional group of faculty and graduate students interested in legal history." 
Gateway to the resources of the Library of Congress, "the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge."
A collection of websites, databases, and other resources maintained by the Library of Congress.
Movie Review Query Engine.  Provides reviews for "new and recent movies in theaters, DVD and Blu-ray releases, and film classics."  See also the Film Review Annual in the Library's reference collection, which covers 1981 to 2002 (REFB PN 1995 .F463).  Citations to reviews of films published from October 1927 through 1963 are included in volume 4 (2 parts) of James Salem's A Guide to Critical Reviews (REFB PN 2277 .N5 S28x 1967).
"A portal to world history websites developed by the Center for History and New Media" at George Mason University.


"Provides access to information on archival material from different European countries as well as information on archival institutions throughout the continent."

Virginia and United States

Central Rappahannock Heritage Center
The center "archives and preserves historical documents and photographs pertaining to the history and people from the counties of Caroline, Stafford, King George, Spotsylvania and the City of Fredericksburg in Virginia."

The Civil War
A collection of primary and secondary works, maintained by the Finding Dulcinea virtual library.

A collection of more than 10,000 primary source documents.

Slavery in America and the World:  History Culture and Law
Includes "all known legal materials on slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world, as well as materials on free African-Americans in the colonies and the U.S. before 1870."
An excellent directory of sources for history students, with sections on methodology, choosing a paper topic, proposals, research, historiography, book reviews, primary sources, quotations, plagiarism, footnotes and endnotes, bibliographies, and much more.
The Library of Virginia, the state archives and reference library, "maintains vast and varied collections of print materials, manuscripts, archival records, newspapers, photographs and ephemera, maps and atlases, rare books, and fine art that tell the history of the commonwealth and its people."  See also the link to its newer digital collections, DigiTool.


An online resource center that helps students and teachers "locate, analyze, and learn from primary sources dealing with women and gender in world history."

Google Tricks

  • Use quotation marks for exact words or phrases.
    • For example, “global warming” (to search global warming as a phrase rather than two separate words).
  • Use an asterisk as a wildcard or a placeholder. 
    • For example, universit* (for university or universities); “a * saved is a * earned”
  • Use OR to search for one word or the other.  Useful for synonyms. 
    • For example, attorneys OR lawyers
  • Use site: to search within a site or domain (no space after colon).
    • For example, “global warming”; climatology
  • Use a dash to exclude a word or phrase from a search. 
    •  For example, cougar speed –car; “global warming” –
  • Use allintitle: to show results with word(s) in the title (no space after colon).
    • For example, allintitle:“global warming”
      • You can also use allinurl to find websites with words in the URL.
  • Use related: to search for sites similar to ones you know (no space after colon).
    • For example,
  • Use link: to find sites linked to a particular web page (no space after colon).
    • For example,;
  •  Use filetype: to restrict results to certain file type (no space after colon).
    • For example, climatology filetype:pdf
  • Use two periods without spaces to search for a number range, such as dates, prices, and measurements.
    • For example, “test scores” 2013..2014; microwaves $100..$300