Monday, March 31, 2014

History resources

See History Databases

America: History and Life
Covers material about Canada and the United States only.

Historical Abstracts
Historical coverage of the world from 1450 to the present (excluding the United States and Canada).

Online Guides/Pathfinders

History – General on the Web
Additional guides for Canada, Europe, US and World.

BUBL Link: 900 Geography and History
Internet resources selected by UK librarians.

Canada’s SchoolNet Learning Resources: Social Studies

History Resources
This resource, from Louisiana State University, contains pointers to bibliographies, catalogs, electronic images, electronic texts, electronic journals, electronic discussion groups, and indexes.

The Internet Public Library: History

Internet Subject Guides: History. Mount Royal College, Calgary

Kwantlen University College Library Internet Subject Guides: History

WWW-VL The World Wide Virtual Library History: Central Catalogue

Canada Online: Canadian History
From “”. Links to general Canadian history resources and Canadian history maps.

Canadian History on the Web
Links compiled by Oxford University Press Canada.

Canadiana: The Canadian Resources Page
An extensive gateway to Internet sites on a wide range of subjects relating to Canada. There are subject headings for history and politics, science and education, news and information, facts and figures and much more. Last updated 2000.

H-Canada: Canadian History and Studies
A discussion group for scholars including publication reviews, calls for papers and resource links.

Library and Archives Canada
Provides access to the full list of selected topics available for browsing on the Library and Archives Canada Website.

Genealogy Links


Our roots/Nos Racines
Canada’s local histories online.

Family Search
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) website. Links to 1881 Canadian and British census and 1880 U.S. Census.

1901 Census for England and Wales

Census of Canada, 1901

Encarta Encyclopedia. “Geography”.

Geography on the Web

Perry-CastaƱeda Library Map Collection
Collection of current and historical maps provided by the University of Texas at Austin.

Monday, March 24, 2014


History quotes
“History does not repeat itself. The historians repeat one another.”

-Max Beerbohm
“God alone knows the future, but only an historian can alter the past.”

-Ambrose Bierce
“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

“All that has been felt, thought, imagined, said, and done by human beings as such and in relation to one another and to their environment since the beginning of mankind’s operations on this planet.”

-Social Science Research Council

Many consider “history” to be one of the humanities

Developments to note
  • Increasing interdisciplinary trend
  • Increasing number of specialized areas, e.g. by: time period; geographic area; ethnic, racial, or social group
  • Developments in theory and method, e.g. postmodernism; feminist theory
  • New technologies, e.g. digitalization and availability of primary sources over the Web, e.g. U of M Archives & Special Collections. The Canadian Wartime Experience
  • see Using Primary Sources on the Web
  •  Primary sources: records made at the time of an event (or somewhat later) by the participants or firsthand observers, e.g.
    • letters
    • diaries
    • court records
    • wills
    • newspaper accounts of those on the scene
      • viewpoints may not be accurate
    • oral histories and interviews
    • data files, e.g. census records
    • ephemeral materials important for social/cultural history, e.g. menus, catalogues, playbills, comic books, etc.
  • Secondary sources: materials by individuals other than event participants or eyewitnesses which analyze or report on historical subjects 
    • Monograph dominates but serial literature growing
  • Tertiary sources: information gained “third hand”, or a summary of a summary. Information found from encyclopaedias
  • Historians tend to refer to older materials more than scholars in most other disciplines (preservation problems with acidic materials)
  • New methodologies esp. use of quantitative sources, e.g. census, tax info
  • Social history (Annales School originating in France, 1929)
    • study of groups such as women, children, minorities, the poor
    • Statistical data used where ever possible, e.g. the Doomsday book
    • If those studied were not considered everyday people or the elite, there was likely little to no paper trails
  • Historians usually regular library users
    • heavy users of ILL
    • microform sets of source material important
    • Web resources beginning to appear
  • Biographies most popular historical genre with general readers
  • Local histories: authors often amateur historians, information may overlap with genealogy
  • Oral history may fill gap as fewer and fewer record experiences in written diaries and letters
  • Historical revision: process of reinterpreting the past, should be based on new evidence or new interpretations of existing evidence not deliberate fabrications of the historical record
    • E.g. The Red River Rebellion is now referred to as the Red River Resistance. Louis Riel is now portrayed as a good man, rather than the traitor he was illustrated as.
  • Poor teaching of history in K-12, especially when focused on names and dates, has caused many to believe history is boring and irrelevant yet:
    • Family history/genealogy extremely popular
    • Historical re-enactments popular
    • History TV channel
    • Numerous popular museums

Monday, March 17, 2014

Political science

From: Herron, Nancy L. The Social Sciences: A Cross Disciplinary Guide to Selected Sources, 3rd ed. Greenwood Village, Colo. : Libraries Unlimited, 2002. pp. 47-50.

Political science
Debra Cheney

Every day, newspapers, magazines, television, and radio bombard us with information dealing with political situations and developments. However, few of us think of this information as falling within the discipline of political science. Similarly, political science questions posed at library reference desks will frequently deal with current events and society, rather than with an analysis of a political theory or ideology. Yet all these questions fall into the arena of political science reference work. 
One difficult aspect of categorizing political science questions is that they are dependent on both the type of the library and the needs of patrons using that library. Each reference question can require different resources and different reference processes. In an academic setting, questions about the availability of foreign newspaper translations, articles about the impact of congressional redistricting on voter registration, and statements and voting records on a wide range of topics are likely to be posed. In addition, questions about political situations in other countries and the activities and publications of international and intergovernmental organizations are increasingly common. With the growing awareness of world events and the greater availability of information about these events, researchers are increasingly expanding their research to include non-U.S. sources. The breadth and complexity of many political science questions illustrate two facts about the discipline of political science: It lacks a clear definition and delineation of the subject from other social sciences, and the range of material covered in the field is very large. 
Einstein once observed that politics was more difficult to understand than physics because of the number of relationships and factors involved. 1 This can be said also about the study of political science. Politics and the governance of human beings have, of course, been in existence since we first organized into societal groups. Yet the study of political science is a relatively new social science, born from the disciplines of history, economics, and government and nurtured by the fields of sociology, psychology, geography, and philosophy. Because of the field’s interdisciplinary nature, political science reference questions often require sources and knowledge beyond those traditionally categorized as purely political science sources. 
Evolution of political science
The birth of this new social science is usually placed at the turn of the twentieth century with the establishment of the American Political Science Association (APSA) in 1903. Before that time, most studies of politics took place within departments of history and economics. However, with the founding of the ASPA, political science departments soon developed in colleges and universities across the country. The founding was also significant to the discipline, because it was a U.S. association and the discipline itself is a uniquely U.S. social science, with more than three-quarters of political scientists being American. 2 The predominance of Americans in the field focused most research in the area of the U.S. politics, a bias that still exists today. However, this is changing not only because the end of the Cold War has placed the superpowers in a relationship of cooperation rather than competition, but also because information about other countries has become more available. 
As the discipline developed, its lack of scientific principles was viewed by all as a primary deterrent in a field claiming the word science. Political scientists consciously tried to develop the principles and theories necessary for a scientific framework for this new field. However, the discipline continues to struggle with the need to define itself and its role. 3 The 1982 International Handbook of Political Science, edited by William G. Andrews (Greenwood Press, 1982), opens with the same sentence that the first article in the first issue of Political Science Quarterly (the first professional journal in the field) did in 1886: “The term political science is greatly in need of definition.” 4 On the surface it would appear that U.S. efforts during the past century have done little to define the discipline of political science. Yet the profession has made a good deal of progress; it has produced a body of classic works, fostered specialization, developed a systematic theoretical structure, and developed models for analysis. 
The discipline has passed through five developmental stages in the past 100 years. The first stage, the study of government, was an outgrowth of the marriage of history and economics. This period produced the great classics in political science, many of which stand up well even by today’s standards of science 5 and were the basis for political organizational theory. However, the search for scientific rules for the discipline continued until after World War II, when the second stage, behaviorism, emerged. Behaviourists sought to scientifically learn why and how people react in political situations, and tried to predict occurrences and political actions. A third stage, the study of comparative politics, began to move political science out of its largely U.S. focus and to compare how nations and states operate. The fourth stage, the study of public administration, dealt with how governments and organizations (e.g., Congress, government agencies, political parties) operate. The final stage, the now-burgeoning field of public policy analysis, seeks ways to quantify and evaluate political decisions to maximize benefits for the public good. Each of these stages reflected the interest and themes of the historical periods in which it was born and effectively added new fields of specialization within the study of political science. 
Fields of specialization
Within political science there are many fields of research, each slightly different from the others and each borrowing from and overlapping to certain degrees with other social sciences. These fields can be grouped into seven broad areas: national governments, comparative politics, international politics, political theory, public law, public administration, and public policy analysis. 
National governments
The study of national governments is the oldest branch of political science, covering many topics and evolving out of the works of Plato and Aristotle. Originally this field dealt with the subjects of power, the state, and political institutions. Due to the U.S. dominance in political science, the field soon grew into the study of the powers and interactions of the legislative, executive, and judicial bodies at the national, state, and local levels. The study of the national governments branched out in the early twentieth century to include the study of voting and electoral patterns and the power of political parties within the U.S. political scene. Today, because of behaviorism and frequent forays into sociology and psychology, the key fields of study are the behavior and motivation of voters and the power of the media in the political process. 
Comparative politics
The study of comparative politics became an area of serious research after World War II with the emergence of behaviorism. Comparative politics research attempts to develop methodologies by which institutions and governments can be compared scientifically. Unfortunately, there has rarely been agreement on consistent methodologies, and, consequently, scientific cross-national comparisons rarely occur. Study in this branch of political science and the resulting literature tend to be primarily descriptive, occasionally crossing into the field of history, areas studies, and economics. 
International politics
The study of international politics examines the interactions of independent political entities within an international sphere. These entities can be either separate nations or intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), such as the United Nations or the Organizations of American States. Frequent topics of interest in this field are the foreign policies of countries or organizations, national defense policies, peace and military research, and diplomatic affairs. The literature of this field of study depends heavily on official government, organization, or intergovernmental documents, including proclamations, resolutions, reports, and policy statements. 
Political theory
The study of political theory seeks ways to explain and predict political phenomena through the philosophical and moral aspects of political ideologies. The field is divided into two major areas of study: normative and empirical. Normative theory concerns itself with analytical, moral, and philosophical issues. Empirical theory tries to predict behaviour through established models and hypotheses. 
Public law
The study of public law is the counterpart to the legal profession. Whereas the attorney researches issues to know how best to represent a client in a court of law, a scholar studies the same material looking for patterns to describe how society places controls on the individual. Research, dominated by U.S. scholars, has focused primarily on the separation of powers, presidential power, and the powers of the courts. However, there is also extensive study of international law, covering the issues of accepted international legal behaviour, both by individuals and nations. This field depends heavily on court decisions (including administrative and appellate courts) and on international agreements and treaties. 
Public administration
The study of public administration grew out of research since the 1880s on the daily operation of governments and bureaucracies and has developed a substantial body of classic literature to serve as a foundation. 6 The primary focus of public administrations research is on governmental operations and the managerial processes associated with the successful operation of any organization, including budgeting, staffing, management, directing, analysis, and evaluation. Governments at all levels--national, state, and local—are studied. The field frequently approaches issues from a comparative politics standpoint, and an important area of recent study involves research on the governments of developing countries. 
Public policy analysis
Public policy analysis, the newest field of study, combines economics, public administration, and national government as it delves into the decisions and actions of governments operating with limited resources. The field attempts to develop methodologies and models through with public policy decisions can be made. Despite its newness, the field has grown rapidly and is now considered a mature field of study. 
Structure of the literature
Information sources for political science fall into two categories: primary sources in either paper or machine-readable format from research or governmental bodies and secondary sources (e.g., accounts from monographs or serials). Each field within political science depends on these two information categories to differing degrees. For example, a study of legislative intent would require the publications of official bodies, such as the Congress or the United Nations General Assembly, to interpret legislative intent; a voting analysis study would require raw data of electoral results to develop a hypothesis concerning voting behaviour; and a study of Chinese national economic policies would require government publications and monographic, serial, and newspaper accounts. 
Reference services in political science is highly dependent on the nature of the question and the type of patron. It should be obvious that a firm grasp of other social science reference sources is requisite. A basic knowledge of current events and American history is also essential in conducting the reference interview. Familiarity with the structure of the United States and key intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations, is also essential. Finally, a working knowledge of the organization of government document collections and the characteristics of specific types of government publications, particularly congressional and judicial documents, is helpful. In short, to provide reference service to the field of political science one must be comfortable with the social sciences in general and with collections containing primary source materials. 
The titles discussed in the remainder of the chapter represent the variety of political science reference resources available. The sources are arranged based on the subject and type of question that they could help to answer, in the following categories:
General Information 
Public Administration and Public Policy—General Sources 
U.S. Government—Executive Branch
U.S. Government—Congress
U.S. Government—The Presidency 
U.S. Government—State and Local 
National Governments—Worldwide 
U.S. Politics—General 
Elections and Political Parties—United States 
Elections and Political Parties—The States 
Elections and Political Parties—Worldwide 
International Relations and Organizations 
War and Peace; Terrorism 
Human Rights

Monday, March 10, 2014

Political science resources

Canadian Political Science Association

American Political Science Association

Online Guides/Pathfinders, etc.
Politics Subject Guides

Internet Subject Guides: Political Science. Mount Royal College, Calgary.

Canadian Information By Subject: 32 Political Science. National Library of Canada

Country Studies
How to find information about countries. Links compiled by University of Winnipeg Library.

Government & Legal Links
Organized by City Government, Manitoba Government, Canadian Government, and Statues & Legal Links, and International Government Resources.

Canadian Governments
Comprehensive list of links compiled by UBC Library.

Guide to Information Sources on Political Science. University of New Brunswick.
Recommends print and electronic sources available through UNB Libraries.

Politics & Government Campus Guides, York University Libraries.
Recommends print and electronic sources available through York University Libraries.

Political Science Resources Reference Tools
By the University of Michigan Document Center. The site offers a collection of databases and links.

From: OCLC
PAIS International
Provides selective subjects and bibliographic access to periodicals, books, hearings, reports, gray literature, government publications, Internet resources, and other publications from 120 countries. The database covers the public and social policy literature of business, economics, finance, law, international relations, public administration, government, political science, and other social sciences – with emphasis on issues that are or might become the subjects of legislation. Includes materials in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish with English language abstracts and subject headings.

PAIS Archive
Contains more than 700,000 records, originally published in the PAIS Bulletin, 1915-1976. Complements the contemporary coverage of the PAIS International database, also available on FirstSearch.

Women in Politics Bibliographic Database
A searchable bibliographic database of 650 titles, including books, articles, and other governmental publications dealing with women in politics.

Encyclopaedias and Dictionaries
The Canadian Encyclopedia

Glossary of Political Economy Terms. Compiled by Paul M. Johnson, Auburn University.

iAmericanSpirit Political Dictionary
The purpose of a political dictionary is to acquaint the reader with the terms used by policymakers, journalists, commentators, and analysts, in discussing national and international politics.

Glossary of [Canadian Political] Terms
Glossary provided by: Mark O. Dickerson & Tom Flanagan, authors of An Introduction to Government and Politics, 5th ed.

Almanacs, handbooks, etc.
The World Factbook
From CIA.

Statistics Sources
Statistics and Indicators. University of British Columbia Library.
Lists print handbooks, yearbooks, statistical compilations on CD-ROM, online or on the world wide web, that might be helpful for political science researchers including:

Canada. Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Trade Negotiations and Agreements: Tools and Statistics
Includes links to trade data, a “Glossary of Terms” and list of acronyms.

Transparency International
A bibliography which provides a fully searchable database of documents and publications, on corruption and related issues. It has a special focus on gray literature.

Corruption Perceptions Index
A comparative assessment of country’s integrity performance.

Canadian Government Budgets
Includes links to federal and provincial budgets between 1995 and 2004.

Country Indicators for Foreign Policy
CIFP is a geopolitical database developed originally by the Canadian Department of National Defense in 1991. In 1997 the project became known as CIFP (Country Indicators for Foreign Policy). The project represents an on-going effort to identify and assemble statistical information conveying the key features of the political, economic, social and cultural environments of countries around the world. Currently, the data set includes measurements of domestic armed conflict, governance and political instability, militarization, religious and ethnic diversity, demographic stress, economic performance, human development, environmental stress, and international linkages.

Provides links and information about the major statistical material available on the web for politics.

Historical Statistics of Canada
An electronic version of the compendium Historical Statistics of Canada - second edition, originally published in 1983 as a paper publication. It depicts the growth and development of Canada from Confederation in 1867 to the modern era in short texts and extensive statistical tables. In addition to time series on employment, housing, health care, education and the national accounts, it includes descriptions designed to aid interpretation and use of the data and draws together references to the many original sources.

International Relations and Security Network
The ISN is a free public service that provides a wide range of high-quality and comprehensive products and resources to encourage the exchange of information among international relations and security professionals worldwide. The ISN works to promote a better understanding of the strategic challenges we face in today’s changed security environment.

The Progress of Nations
Provides a descriptive and statistical national comparison for social, economic data. Looks at such factors as water and sanitation, nutrition, health, education, treatment of women, etc. Published by UNICEF. Reports from 1995-1999 also online.

Population Reference Bureau
Provides timely and objective information on U.S. and international population trends and their implications.

Profiles nation-states and provinces of the world. You can look at maps and flags or listen to national anthems.

Access to Justice Network
Canadian law and justice resource materials.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Political science

“Man is by nature a political animal.”


“Political is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

“Political science deals with the nature, the accumulation, the distribution, 
the exercise, and the control of power on all levels of social interaction, 
with special emphasis upon the power of the state.”

Hans J. Morgenthau (1904-1979), American political scientist

Political science is:
“The study of “who gets what, when, and how”.”

H. D. Laswell

“The study of the processes, principles, and structure
of government and of political institutions; politics.”

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, © 2000.

“the study of conflict and cooperation within societies. At its most basic level, 
this entails asking how and why life and property should be protected and how 
cultural and economic aspirations are expressed and accommodated. The study of 
national and international political systems involve investigation of how individuals, 
social movements, groups and parties relate to each other and to government; 
how governmental systems operate; and how and why certain policies work.”

University of Calgary. Faculty of Arts. Department of Political Science.

“Political scientists analyse the causes and consequences of war, disputes over territory 
and resources, problems of environmental degradation, problems of sexual and 
racial inequality, poverty, terrorism and refugees, and the nature and 
consequences of globalization. More generally, political science researchers 
investigate such concepts as justice, liberty, representation and democracy, and 
explore ideologies that try to make sense of the political world, such as conservatism, liberalism, socialism, fascism, feminism, and environmentalism.”

University of Calgary. Faculty of Arts. Department of Political Science.

“The study of relationships between citizens and governments (as well as 
relationships between governments) and the impact of issues such as 
race, gender, nationalism, and capital on those relationships.”
Political science
  • The past affects the future
  • To understand our current government, we must look at the past
  • Political writings build on each other, proving or disproving hypotheses and theories
  • study of national governments (oldest)
  • comparative politics
  • international politics
  • political theory
    • normative (what should be, theoretical)
    • empirical (what is, practical)
  • public law
  • public administration
  • public policy analysis
    • analyse what the government is doing
Major topics
  • The origin, nature, and purpose of the State (political theory)
  • Various forms of government (e.g., presidential and parliamentary systems)
  • The concentration or dispersal of powers found in governments (checks and balances)
  • Relationships between the individual and the State (rights and liberties)
  • Elections
  • Political parties and interest groups
  • Ideologies that affect governmental policy (democracy, socialism, communism and fascism)
  • Public policy
  • International relations
Political science in Canada
  • As an academic discipline, dates back to late 19th century
    • As do most disciplines
  • Strongly connected to constitutional law and economics
  • Canadian Political Science Association founded in 1913
  • Strong American influence in English Canadian universities in 1960s
    • Vietnam War occurred, universities established, professors trained or came from America
  • Growth in Quebec coincided with the Quiet Revolution
    • Language laws, church
Reference requires
  • Basic knowledge of current events and Canadian history
    • affects everyday life
  • Familiarity with structure of Canadian government at all levels (federal, provincial, municipal) and key international organizations, e.g. U.N.
  • Familiarity with types and organizations of government publications
Literature needs
  • Data files are much in demand, especially those with detailed election information, but also those that capture government activity
  • Political and issue advocacy organizations produce a considerable variety of publications in print and now in digital form on the web
  • Detailed information about the political process (who did what when), especially in the legislative and executive branches (and the judicial branch for those in constitutional law) remains popular
  • Substantial use of public opinion data (polling)
Teachers and students
  • Popular syntheses
  • “Who did what when and why” factbooks (help with classroom assignments)
  • Current awareness material to answer questions about current events
  • Popular, pro and con discussion of visible issues
    • Health care, daycare, same-sex marriage, environmental issues
    • No lack of material, problem is balance
  • Biographies of politicians, statesmen/women
  • Government addresses and services
  • a social science dealing with the rights and duties of citizens
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed.
Some see political science as citizen training or indoctrination. Political science then becomes civics which is designed to teach students to be good citizens and participate appropriately in the political process