HIST 301 - Topics in History

This guide contains suggestions for students conducting research in a HIST 301 course. Occasionally, a sub-page is created for a specific topics course.

Library Research Guide

The History of Gaming and Libraries

This page is focused on how to find materials that you might need when researching for your history of gaming projects. In particular, we focus on finding primary sources through the Libraries' databases and through public archives with digitized collections.

Information about essential sources for history, like databases with scholarly journal articles, ebook databases, and Interlibrary Loan is covered on the main page for this research guide.

As a special bonus, we've also included a cache of documents that intrepid librarians found that related to the mass production of penicillin during World War II.

Primary Sources in Databases

These databases are good starting points for primary source materials. The “best” primary source databases in History will vary depending on your research question.

Reading the database description and the dates covered will help you decide which one to use.

We have many more databases with primary source materials. Find them by using the  "Primary" tag on our databases page.

Best Bets

These databases cover a diversity of publications and time periods and are typically digitized copies of documents, so that you can see them in as close to their original form as possible.



Peoples and Cultures

Time Periods

Finding Digital Archives

What are archives?

Documents and materials like photographs, maps, audio interviews that are no longer in use may be stored by an organization in an archive so that they can be consulted by researchers (and the curious) in the future.

An archive may include:

  • documents produced by the United States War Office during World War II regarding the need for the mass production of penicillin 
  • photographs from a pharmaceutical company that record the production line for penicillin
  • letters or a diary written by a lab tech in a Peoria, Illinois laboratory who is studying mold on vegetables

Typically, an archive is created by a government entity (usually because the law requires it), a cultural entity (like a university that wants to preserve its history), or a corporation (because they need records to understand how products were created, business decisions were made, etc...).


How do I find a digital archive?

A digital archive is simply when an institution or, more rarely, an individual makes digital copies of archival material available online.

Finding digital archives is a mix of experience and perseverance. It's easier if you have at least some basic background information about your event or person, so be sure to look for some articles using the Libraries' databases.

We recommend these digital archives as good starting points for many research topics:

Searching for Other Digital Archives

Still not finding what you need?

  • Create a list of the people and organizations related to your historical event
  • Create a list of named documents or publications related to your historical event
    • Search the internet for those titles. For instance, searching Penicillin therapy and control in 21 Army Group finds this document: https://collections.nlm.nih.gov/catalog/nlm:nlmuid-10010970R-bk
    • Too many search results? Place quotation marks around the title, like this: "Penicillin therapy and control in 21 Army Group" That forces the search engine to search for that exact phrase (this works in library databases, too!)
  • Find images by using the Google Image Search - enter your search terms, like: war production board penicillin. When looking at the results, click on the Images link under the Google Search box, as the image below illustrates.
    • You can also go straight to the Google Images search: https://images.google.com

Screenshot of the images link under the Google search box

What if I Don't Find What I Need?

The trick is that the document that you would love to find may not have been created, or preserved, or digitized. But that kind of makes this like a treasure hunt! You never know what materials you'll actually find and what you can learn from them.

Contact your friendly librarians if:

  • you've tried searching in the library databases and used a few of the search techniques provided above and still can't find anything relevant
  • you can't figure out how to start searching
  • you can't find a document that has been referenced or cited somewhere else
  • you have any questions about researching with libraries and archives

Document Cache: Mass Production of Pencillin

Consult these documents related to the scientific advances leading to the mass production of penicillin during World War II. 

  1. Penicillin. United States. Office of War Information. [Washington, DC], 1944. (Digital archive: National Library of Medicine.)

  2.  [Pamphlets re Penicillin Treatment in the Second World War, bound into a volume.] 1943-1945. (Digital archive: Wellcome Library.)

  3.  Moyer, Andrew J. Method for Production of Penicillin. US Patent 2,442,141. Filed May 11, 1945. and issued May 25, 1945. (Digital archive: United States Patent and Trademark Office.)

  4. "Penicillin." Life, May 24, 1943, 53. (Digital archive: Google Books - Magazines.)

  5. "Progress in Penicillin." Life, April 9, 1945, 89. (Digital archive: Google Books - Magazines.)

  6. Penicillin, New Medical Ally. United States. War Food Administration. [Washington, DC],1944. (Digital archive: Internet Archive.)

  7. Penicillin: Apparatus Used in the Production. (Diagram.) Norman Heatley collection. [n.d.] (Digital archive: Wellcome Library.)

  8. "Penicillin Past, Present and Future: The Development and Production of Penicillin, England, 1944," (Photograph Collection) United Kingdom Ministry Of Information, [n.d.] (Digital Archive: Imperial War Museum)