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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 Services menu and, under SIGN UP FOR, select eCards.
  2. Click on the blue Get or Renew your eCard box on the right.
  3. Click Proceed. You will be asked 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 and Address. Fill in all the required fields, then click Proceed.
  5. Enter in your date of birth and 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 Proceed.
  6. Verify that your information has been entered correctly, then click I Agree.
  7. You will be prompted to check your email. 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. 
  8. 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.
  9. At the BPL homepage, hover over and click Log In on the top right-hand corner. Enter the barcode number assigned to you and the PIN you chose, proceed, and then create a username. Remember this as well!

  10. To access databases through BPL:

  • From the BPL home page, click the Books & More option found at the top. Click on Online Resources.

  • Scroll through the list of options by clicking on A-Z Resources on the right, or click on a subject area to limit the number of databases you see.

  • 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