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Library Guide for Historical Abstracts

This guide is designed to help students use Historical Abstracts. The guide will include a description of Historical Abstracts, use and purpose of the database, sample search approaches, and information on how to obtain material indexed by the database.


Historical Abstracts indexes historical articles from more than 3,000 journals, including nearly 400 journals in full text. In addition, the database provides full text access to 140 books and searchable cited references to more than 500 titles. Coverage also includes the history of the world (excluding the U.S. and Canada) from 1450 to the present. The database represents scholarship from nearly 100 countries, and the content extends to related disciplines such as archaeology, anthropology and sociology.

Use and Purpose

Historical Abstracts is the most comprehensive world history journal article index provided by the NSU Library. America: History & Life can be used to find journal articles on U.S. and Canadian history topics.


The default search screen on Historical Abstracts provides access to the Advanced Search screen, which includes multiple search boxes and field search options that can be used to help narrow the search results:

Default Search Screen

Below is an example of a quick search on the "Crusades" that retrieved nearly 2,000 citations:

Search "Crusades" and display result list.








The above search can be refined (to help narrow the results) by using a number of approaches, including entering other terms in the additional search boxes, selecting only peer reviewed (scholarly) material, choosing only books or journal articles, restricting the results to full text only, and so on. Although selecting the "Full Text" option will retrieve only full text material, in making this selection you may miss seeing citations to useful resources that can be obtained in full text outside Historical Abstracts. At the end of this guide there will be a brief discussion on how to obtain the full text of an item when it is not available in full text on the database.

Refining Search by Limiting: Source Types










One way to narrow your search results is to use a database's controlled vocabulary, otherwise known as valid subject terms. To find the valid subject terms recognized by Historical Abstracts, click on the "More" button to bring up the drop-down menu showing the "Images" and "Indexes" options. Next, select "Indexes" in the drop-down menu:

Other Search Options including Subject Terms

Select "Subject Terms" in the "Browse an Index" box.  Next, enter your subject in the "Browse for" box, select the appropriate term(s) by checking the box next to the term, and then click the "Add" button. Your search term(s) will now appear in the search box.

Select from the "Browse Index" drop down box












Finding Items Indexed by Historical Abstracts That are Not Available on the Database in Full Text

If the needed resource is not available in full text on Historical Abstracts, the following methods can be used to try to obtain the item in full text:

  1. Some articles not found in full text can be obtained by using the "Search for Full-Text" option that appears below the citation on the search results page.  
  2. If the above approach does not retrieve the item in full text, check the title of the journal or book title in the NSU Library Catalog (link is below) to see if the library owns a paper or microform copy of the item.
  3. If none of the above approaches work for obtaining the item, Interlibrary Loan services (link is below) can request the article from another library at no cost to you. One key to using interlibrary loan services successfully is to start your research early so that interlibrary loan requests will arrive in time. It may take more than a week to obtain material through interlibrary loan. When requesting a publication through interlibrary loan, be sure to provide as much of the citation as you can.

Contact the Subject Librarian for the Department of History: SophiaBeverley Threatt (