Skip to main content

APUSH Final Project: Primary Sources in the databases

Start with U.S. History in Context database

Search methods in U.S. History in Context

Method 1: Keyword search; limit to primary sources

  • Your results won't be as specific as other search methods would provide, but this is a good way to determine what's available on the database related to your topic.
  • You can further limit your search by subject, document type, or add in additional keywords in the "search within results" function.

Method 2: Topic Portals​

  • Click "Browse Topics" and scan the list for a relevant topic.
  • Once you select a topic portal, click "Primary Sources" - this will give you more targeted results than a keyword search.
  • Again, you can apply additional search limiters (subject, document type, more keywords). 

Method 3: Advanced Search

  • This is the most targeted type of search. It's best if you know of a specific primary source and would like to find the full text in the database. 
  • Click "Advanced Search" and enter the name of the document, selecting the category "Document Title". 

Get a BPL account

  1. At the top of the page, click on the "Quick Links" menu and select eCards.
  2. Click on the blue Get or Renew your eCard box.
  3. A pop-window will appear, asking if you are a permanent MA resident. Select Yes, then click Proceed.
  4. You will be asked to fill in a form with your First and Last Name, Address, and Date of Birth. Fill in all the required fields, then click Proceed.
  5. Enter in your email address (it can either be your school email or your personal email), and create a 4-digit PIN. Be sure to write down or save your PIN somewhere so you don't forget it! Then click I accept. You will see a message stating that an email will be sent to the account you provided.
  6. In another tab, sign in to your email to open the message from BPL. If you don't see it in your inbox, check your spam folder. It may take up to 15 minutes for the message to appear. 
  7. Open the email. You will see that you have been assigned a numeric barcode number. This is your BPL card number! Write it down or save it in your phone somewhere for safekeeping. 

    To access databases through BPL:

  • From the BPL home page, hover over the Electronic Resources option found at the top. Click on A-Z list of resources.

  • Scroll through the list of options, or click on a subject area to limit the number of databases you see. Hover over the blue "i" symbol to read a description of what the database covers

  • When prompted, enter your BPL card number and PIN.


    For this assignment, I recommend checking out these databases in BPL:

  • 19th Century U.S. Newspapers
  • AP Images
  • Archives Unbound
  • Credo Reference
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library