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ENGL 401: Dickens (Gettelman)


Visit the Libraries' homepage to use our discovery tool, CrossSearch.

CrossSearch provides a single starting point for your research by collecting most of our research resources -- the catalog, research databases, open-access journals and more -- behind a single search box. Once you have begun to search CrossSearch, you can fine tune your results to focus on specific types of resources, publication dates, subject areas, and more.

Watch this video to learn more about using CrossSearch. Or, visit our CrossSearch Guide

C19 and the Wellesley Victorian Collection

Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals:

See also: A Guide to....C19


Research Strategies


Here are some general tips to guide you in choosing your search terms:

- Use keywords or brief (2-word) phrases instead of sentences -- one or two for each part of your topic.

- Use concepts and other nouns as your keywords.  Think of words that are likely to be used in titles (or that you have seen in titles).

- If your keywords aren't turning up many results, you may need to:

  • Try thinking of synonyms or other ways of phrasing your topic. If you can find one or two relevant articles, check to see what subjects are listed for them and try to build keywords from there. 
  • Try a broader search (broader topic, broader date-range, etc.).
  • Try a different database.

No piece of research stands alone; each is part of a broader scholarly conversation in that topic/ field. You can use a single article  or other resource to find other, similar research by tracing the paths of that conversation:

Keywords – Check the abstract, subject terms and full-text to discover the vocabulary being used in this particular scholarly conversation.

Subject Terms – Subject terms not only provide insight into vocabulary you should use but also serve as search tools – click on these tags in any database (or the catalog) to find more resources on a given topic.

Cited References – Check the references list (or bibliography) to see what previous research this resource is drawing on. From here, you may wish to consider: 

- Previous articles or books published on your topic
- Other authors who have published on your topic
- Journals where your topic is frequently discussed

Times Cited – Check Google Scholar and Scopus to see which articles or books have cited your sources, and to find
more-recent research which builds on your original information.

Once you find a new resource, you can also trace the scholarly conversation around that book/article to find even more resources.

For a simpler, graphic representation of this research strategy, download the handout below: 

The Libraries catalog is one way to locate books and other materials relating to your topic. But did you know that it is also possible to browse in the library stacks? 

The Holy Cross Libraries (and many other libraries) use a system called Library of Congress Classification (LCC) to organize our books. Each book or journal is identified by a unique call number. Unlike call numbers in the Dewey Decimal System, LCC call numbers include a combination of both letters and numbers. These call numbers identify the location of the book in our stacks; they also identify the subject (or the main subject if there are more than one) of the book or journal. 

Because call numbers are subject-based, it is possible to physically view most of the books on a given topic in one area of the library. This means that it is possible to visit the stacks and browse the selection of materials on your topic. 

To begin, you can....

(a) Locate a book on your topic in the Libraries' catalog, and note the call number; OR
(b) Identify the LCC call number range that corresponds to your topic, by viewing this list

This will tell you the area of the library where you should begin browsing. If your topic is complex or multidisciplinary, there may be more than one area that you should visit. 

Use the handout below to guide you in understanding LCC and navigating the Dinand Stacks: 

Why browse the stacks? 

It's true -- it might require less effort to virtually 'visit' the library stacks via our website. And, the catalog is a great way to find both e- and print materials on your topic. However, because the catalog relies on keyword searching, sometimes truly relevant titles slip through the cracks -- maybe your keyword wasn't in the description of the book recorded in the catalog (these descriptions are not always comprehensive), or appeared in a slightly different form. 

When you visit the stacks, you can view all of the books on the shelf (so long as they are in the right spot!) and see what you might be missing. Often, browsing the shelf will turn up an even better resource than the one you were originally searching for. It's also possible that, in going through a long list of search results, you overlooked a title that is a little more eye-catching on the shelf! 

Finally, when it comes to editions (say, of a particular novel) -- the catalog will show you the different versions of a novel that the library owns. However, you can't always tell the difference between one version and another from the catalog record alone. And, the catalog doesn't always give you detailed information about commentary, forewords or other 'secondary' information that might prove valuable for your research. When you need to compare versions (and/or to choose the best one(s) for your purposes), nothing beats paging through them yourself!