Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.


Arts 130: The Cold War ReLIVEd: Your library research guide

Researching your "We Didn't Start the Fire" topic


This page is intended to get you using the Waterloo Library's resources and services. You'll see how they can assist you in this course and others. Be in touch with me about any questions you have. I'm here to help.

-- Jane Forgay, the Librarian for this course

Billy Joel - We Didn't Start the Fire (Official Video)

Find peer-reviewed / academic sources

Here are two approaches you can take to locate online, peer-reviewed/academic sources for your assignment.

1. Use a multidisciplinary database when:

  • you just want to explore any type of specialized scholarship such as history, political science, mass communication, music ...
  • your topic crosses traditional forms of study such as medicine and technology, or race and intersectionality, or activism and justice ...

Here are 3 different places to try. 

2. Use discipline specific databases when:

  • you want to see what specialists in traditional fields of study have published on your topic.

Here are some databases to target:

Find primary sources

Primary sources are ...

.. first hand observations of a time, person or event, or material culture associated with a time, person or event.

Some types

newspaper and magazine articles .. diaries .. letters .. government reports .. minutes .. advertisements .. photographs .. military,  church,  synagogue records .. shopping lists .. Twitter tweets .. YouTube videos and comments

Check the sections below for digital collections from the Cold War era.

News sources and magazines

Government sources

Does your topic take place during the 1960s? 

Tips for searching and accessing online materials

When searching in the catalogue and databases:

1. Use good keywords to build search strings that will retrieve relevant documents containing all the aspects of your topic. Use the asterisk (*) to truncate words, use quotation marks ("  ") to force a phrase, use AND to separate different concepts, and use OR with parentheses to group synonyms.

Here is an example of a search string:

"berlin wall" AND (escape* OR refugee*)

2. Evaluate your list of results. Ask yourself is what I've found: 

  • recently published, so is likely to include up-to-date information? 
  • written by credible authors who are experts in the field?
  • presented in a balanced way, or if it is biased, it is clear how I might use it as an example/counter example in my paper?

3. View the full text  Look for links with "full text" or "online access" or the icon: Get it!@Waterloo.

Note: not all documents are available electronically. If you are having trouble access the full text, let me know. I'll see if there is anything I can do to help.


Liaison librarian. Contact Jane Forgay for research help or ideas