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PLAN 059: World's Fairs: Research Tools

Evaluating Sources

Primary sources are usually created at the same time as the historical event they describe. For example: letters, diaries, pamphlets, advertisements, oral histories, maps, government documents, newspaper articles current to the time of the event, and photographs taken at the time of the event. Some primary sources, such as autobiographies and memoirs, may be created after the historical event.

Secondary sources are created to describe or analyze events that the author did not witness or participate in. For example: a book that analyzes the history of world’s fairs in the U.S.

Evaluating a source can help you determine its relevance, credibility, and accuracy and understand its context. 

Here are a couple of great sites with tips on how to critically evaluate your sources:

Tips for Searching the UNC Catalog

Start with a simple keyword search in the library catalog

  • For example, search All Fields for: 1915 Panama Pacific World Exposition

Try different key word combinations in your search. Note different names used to identify your fair. 

  • For example: Panama Pacific World Exposition, San Francisco, CA | Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, CA | Panama Pacific Exposition 

Use the options on the left to refine your search by type of resource, date, etc. 

Once you have located a relevant item, you can look at the item's Subjects and follow the links to find similar or related items. 

Tips for Searching in Google

Use Google's Advanced Search to limit by date, language and more
Use Operators in Google Searches 

Some favorite operators to remember:

  • Use quotes to search for a phrase in Google
  • Exclude a word by adding a dash (-) before it
  • Search for similar words by adding a tilde (~) before a word (located in the top left of your keyboard)
  • Limit to specific sites or domains using site:edu, site:org, and so on. 

For example:

  • [Panama Pacific Exposition site:edu] will search for the Panama Pacific Exposition only on sites ending with .edu

General search tips:

  • Choose effective keywords- what words are likely to appear in the results your want? 
  • What other words might be used?

To search for text on a page:

  • Press the Ctrl and the F keys at the same time (PC) or press the command and F keys at the same time (Mac)