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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

History and American Studies: Books

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

Search the Catalog

To find books, use the library catalog. The catalog includes both print books and e-books.

The catalog is a subset of Quest, which also searches the library databases. The search box below is for the catalog only (not the databases).

UMW Libraries

Advanced Search | Browse Search | Reserves Search

Locating books on the shelves

When you find a physical book in Quest, write down its call number, and then go to the shelves.

To use call numbers, read them from the top down.

A label on the spine of a book, displaying the call number PR 8875 .P46 1999

For example, here's how you'd find this book:

  • First, follow the alphabet to the PR section of the library.
  • Next, within the PR section, look in numerical order for 8875.
  • Next, within the books numbered 8875, look in alphabetical and numerical order for .P46.
  • (1999 is the year the book was published.)

Library of Congress Classification

Books are shelved according to Library of Congress Classification. In this system, the library is divided into twenty-one broad subject areas, each of which is assigned one letter of the alphabet.

Books about history are assigned to the letters C, D, E, and F. Within these areas are the following two-letter and three-letter codes:


C -- Auxiliary Sciences of History (General)

  • CB -- History of Civilization
  • CC -- Archaeology
  • CD -- Diplomatics. Archives. Seals
  • CE -- Technical Chronology. Calendar
  • CJ -- Numismatics
  • CN -- Inscriptions. Epigraphy
  • CR -- Heraldry
  • CS -- Genealogy
  • CT -- Biography


D -- World History and History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc. 

  • D -- History (General)
  • DA -- Great Britain
  • DAW -- Central Europe
  • DB -- Austria - Liechtenstein - Hungary - Czechoslovakia
  • DC -- France - Andorra - Monaco
  • DD -- Germany
  • DE -- Greco-Roman World
  • DF -- Greece
  • DG -- Italy - Malta
  • DH -- Low Countries - Benelux Countries (Continued on next page)
  • DJ -- Netherlands (Holland)
  • DJK -- Eastern Europe (General)
  • DK -- Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics - Poland
  • DL -- Northern Europe. Scandinavia
  • DP -- Spain - Portugal
  • DQ -- Switzerland
  • DR -- Balkan Peninsula
  • DS -- Asia
  • DT -- Africa
  • DU -- Oceania (South Seas)
  • DX -- Romanies


E-F -- History of the Americas

  • E 11-143 -- America
  • E 151-909 -- United States
  • F 1-975 -- United States local history
  • F 1001-1145.2 -- British America (including Canada)
  • F 1170 -- French America
  • F 1201-3799 -- Latin America. Spanish America


For more detailed information on how books are arranged within these areas, see these PDF guides:


  • Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase, as in "Ancient Greece" or "Roman Britain".
  • On the search results page, use the options on the left to narrow down your search.
  • The Virtual Shelf Browse lets you see what books are shelved near the one you've found.  You can browse the shelves without coming to the libray!
  • Sign into the system to request that a book be held for you, or to request scans of chapters. 

Interlibrary Loan

If Simpson Library doesn't have the item that you're looking for, you can have it sent from another library. This is called interlibrary loan, and it's a free service.

Click here to create an interlibrary loan account and to request items from other libraries.

Cooperative Borrowing Program