Historical Abstracts indexes articles, books, dissertations, and book reviews published in over 2,300 history journals going back to 1955. The database also includes selected full text coverage.

This interactive tutorial will demonstrate how to discover scholarly journal articles on your topic, how to link to the full-text in the library’s e-journals subscriptions and how to request articles through interlibrary loan from other libraries.

For the purpose of this exercise we will explore the scholarly literature about the effects of the Reformation on women’s lives. The database search interface should appear on the right side of your screen. You may have to log in with your ldap password first, if you are off-campus. Use the navigation arrows at the bottom to advance to the next page.

Click on the right arrow below to start.

Basic Search

We will start with a simple search for

Women and Reformation

Type the search terms into one of the search boxes and click on Search.

Note that your results will change, if you omit the “and” connector between your search terms. It doesn't make a difference whether you use a single or multiple search boxes as the search boxes are by default connected with “and” operators.

How many records did your search generate?

Advance to the next screen.

Subject Search

1 of 3Subject facets can be helpful in narrowing and focusing an overly large results set.

Click on Subject under Refine Results to the left of the list of records. This will open a list of subjects assigned to the records in your list. Behind each subject is a number which indicates how often a subject occurs in your list of records.

How often does the subject Reformation occur?

Advance to the next screen.

Subject Search

2 of 3Check the box next to the subject Reformation to limit your results and then further limit your results by checking the box next to the subject Women. DO NOT check off two or more subjects simultaneously in the comprehensive list of subjects, which opens up when you click on Show More, as this search will employ both the “and” and the “or” connectors, potentially resulting in more and less focused records.

How many records have both subjects assigned?

Advance to the next screen.

Subject Search

3 of 3You should now have less than 50 records. The publications represented by these records cover many countries and topics, although they are all about the role of women during the Reformation. At this point you may chose to review your results for ideas for a paper topic or you can further narrow your results to find an overview or historiography of recent research that will outline the major trends and topics in your area of interest.

Go back to the list of subjects on the left menu and open the comprehensive list of subjects by clicking on Show More underneath the subject menu. Find the subject Historiography on the list, check it off and click on the Update button. You may have to scroll down to find Historiography. You should now have less than 5 records.

Advance to the next screen.


Take a closer look at Wiesner-Hanks’ article "Women and the Reformations: Reflections on Recent Research" published in the journal History Compass as the title indicates that this article is an overview of current research. Click on the title line to open the full record.

Read the short abstract, which summarizes the article.

Advance to the next screen.

Your Research Folder

Add this record to a folder by clicking on the appropriate icon under Tools on the right side of the screen. The record will stay in the folder as long as you are actively searching. Email or save your results before you take a break or you will risk losing them.

Advance to the next screen.

Full-Text via "find-it"

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Historical Abstract does not include the full text of this article, but the library has a subscription to the journal History Compass. Click on the blue find-it button to the left of the article title.

find-it will open a new tab or a new browser window on your screen. You will need to toggle between two tabs or windows to follow instructions.

Advance to the next screen.

Full-Text via "find-it"

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The find-it pop-up window includes a link to the full text of the article. Occasionally the Article link may not work, in which case you should use the Journal link and browse for the volume and issue which is listed as part of the citation on the find-it pop-up window.

Find the full text for this article and skim over it, then advance to the next screen.

Full-Text via "find-it"

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Take a look at the endnotes and the bibliography and determine the percentage of the article dedicated to references.

The references in a historiographical article are a great inspiration for paper topics and a good starting point for suitable primary and secondary sources.

Advance to the next screen.


Let’s assume that you decide to focus your project on Caritas Pirckheimer. You already have the reference for one journal article from the bibliography of Wiesner-Hanks’ historiography: “Caritas Pirckheimer: A Female Humanist Confronts the Reformation” by Paula Barker. Now we will return to Historical Abstracts to find more secondary sources.

Start a new search in Historical Abstracts by typing Caritas and Pirckheimer into the search box and clicking on Search. Make sure your spelling is correct. Note that Caritas is sometimes spelled as Charitas. Historical Abstracts prefers the first spelling variant. You should see five records: two are for book reviews in French, one is for a dissertation, and two for journal articles. One of the journal articles is a record for the same reference cited in Wiesner-Hanks' article which inspired you. Add this article to your folder by clicking on the light blue folder with the plus sign to the right of the title.

Advance to the next screen.

Interlibrary Loan via "find-it"

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The other journal article is by Stephen Wailes and was published in Daphnis: Zeitschrift für Mittlere Deutsche Literatur und Kultur der Frühen Neuzeit. Don’t be intimidated by the German journal title. The article itself is in English as Historical Abstracts indicates by the absence of “German” behind the title of the article.

Add this article to your folder as well. Then click on find-it to link to the full text. The find-it pop-up window indicates that Villanova does not have a current subscription to the journal.

Advance to the next screen.

Interlibrary Loan via "find-it"

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Click on the "Use ILLIAD to request electronic delivery...." link to request a copy via interlibrary loan. Log in with your ldap password. You may have to set up an account at this point. Submit your account information, if prompted for it, and close the ILLIAD account window. Click a second time on "Use ILLIAD to request electronic delivery..." to open a pre-filled request form.

DO NOT submit the request unless you actually want to have a copy of this article.

You will be notified via email when the pdf file of the article is deposited in your account. It generally takes one to two business days.

Advance to the next screen.

Email Bibliographic Records

Click on the Folder View link in your folder menu. Select all three articles and click on the Email icon on the right side. Type your email address in the space provided and select Chicago/Turabian Humanities style from the Citation Format drop-down menu. Click on Send to email the records to yourself.

Advance to the next screen for a quick review.




Let's review what you just learned about.

What is Historical Abstracts?


Can you get the full text of all the journal articles indexed in Historical Abstracts?

How does the “and” connector between search terms affect search results?

Are all the publications indexed in Historical Abstracts written in English.

What is a historiographical article?

Please enter your name and email address to retrieve a copy of your completed quiz.

You can enter multiple email addresses separated by commas. If you are doing this for a class, you may need to enter your instructor's email address also.