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UCOR 1440-04: European Witch Hunts (Tracey Pepper)

Print Background Sources

General works (handbooks, dictionaries and encyclopedias) that cover background information for your research. These works are based exclusively on secondary sources

eBook Background Sources

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For Distance Students who do not have physical access to the Lemieux Library, you have some options to get books for your paper.

  • Check your local public library for relevant material. You can request material through interlibrary loan through the public library, but check the whether you have enough time for this transaction
  • If you are close to an Orbis Cascade (SUMMIT) library, you can register as a visiting patron and borrow material not at Lemieux Library.
  •  Request material to be mailed from Lemieux Library. This is a pilot project. Contact Karen Gilles

Some examples of Secondary Print & eBooks from the Catalog

  • Interpret primary sources-at least one step removed from the event or phenomenon under review
  • Examination of studies that other researchers have made of a subject
  • Sources compiling or critiquing original works :literary criticism, biographies, and journal articles critiquing the work of others
  • Second Hand-conveys the experiences and opinions of others
  • Created over time
  • Can be original works collected and organized for a specific audience
  • Usually in the form of published works :  books, journals, radio and TV documentaries, conference proceedings

Evaluating the Content

  • Currency Up-to-date? Does it need to be? Check not only the publication date of the book but the references as well. Multiple editions of a book indicate popularity and frequent updates
  • Reliability  What sources did the the author  use? Is there a bibliography, footnotes?
  • Accuracy Is the information cited properly? well-written?
  • Authority  Author's qualifications  What else has this person published? Assess the author’s qualifications. Look for biographical information.  Is the author an expert in the field? What work or educational experiences does the author have? What institutions or organizations does  the author claim affiliation? Has the author written other publications? You might want to check reviews of other publications.Publisher:  Who Published the book? Is it from an academic press? A credible organization or association? Does the publisher specializes in certain subject areas? If in doubt, check the "about us" section of the publisher's website for more information.
  •  Purpose   Read the book's preface or introduction. Who is the intended audience?  Objectivity/Bias? Often the author will present his/her   perspective in this section.      Scan the table of Contents and Index- Check the index - do the keywords lead you back to an appropriate section of the work. Is the book an overview of a topic and if so, is the material covered sufficiently or is it too broad? If narrow in scope, is it so narrow you will  need to go to other sources? Does the title of the book accurately describe the contents of the book?   Does the book address a topic from a certain timeframe and/or geographic area?


Tips: catalog searches

Why bother with subject headings?

You will likely be successful finding sources with good keyword searches.  This technique is most useful when you only need two or three books on a topic. However, if your want to be more comprehensive, you will want to use both keywords and subject headings.

An easy way to discover subject headings is to indeed start out with a keyword search. Then look at the record and see what subject headings were assigned and then search on the headings.

For historicial topics, there are likely to be multiple headings that you will want to try; in your searching you will see works with both broad and narrow headings.


Here are some Library of Congress Subject Headings which may help you in your search:

  • Witchcraft
  • Occult
  • Magic
  • Witchcraft (Trials) 
  • Church history Middle Ages, 600-1500
  • Social history Medieval, 500-1500
  • Women Europe History Middle Ages, 500-1500



  • Browsing: Make sure to browse the shelves in the call number area of your subject.  Books with same or similiar  subject  are often shelved near each other. 
  • Snowballing: Check the footnotes and bibliographies in books. You may find references to other sources you can use in your research. 

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Mary Linden Sepulveda

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Mary Sepulveda

Coordinator of Collection Development, Special Collections & Archives