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HUM-510: History of Technology (Jeffrey Shaw)

Research Guide for History of Technology

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Research Paper Assignment

From your syllabus:
Research Paper Requirements
1. All students must write a 15-20 page research paper on a particular technological innovation, subject to the approval of the moderator. The focus of the paper will be how this innovation has impacted human civilization and what it means to be human. Students will provide a 10-minute in-class presentation on a critical supporting technology during the fifth session. This is a preliminary look at the possible research to be conducted in the course.

2. Each paper must have a clearly defined research question and hypothesis—identified early in the paper. Papers will be graded based upon their focus, adequacy of research, critical reasoning, organization, readability and style, “presentability,” and compliance with the formatting guidance of Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, These, and Dissertations, 8th ed. Students may cite sources using footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical references. Regardless of the method select, remain consistent with formatting, and all papers will contain a “Selected Bibliography,” as opposed to a Reference List.

2. Since the focus of this course is on the history of technology, the research question should read something like the following example: “How did the development of the ____________ through its antecedent technology affect what it means to be human?” An impartial analysis of the facts should weigh both the good and bad, as applicable, associated with your chosen technology.

Library Tools for Research

Below are videos which show how to use the tools. To be able to see the videos better, try first making them full screen by clicking on the square to the lower right of the video, and then on the little gear symbol to put the video in 720 px HD. 


One option is the library's database, EBSCO. Your research for history of technology may be interdisciplinary. In that case, one option may be to search all of EBSCO's many databases with an all-EBSCO search. You can also try searching your topic only in the journals for a particular discipline. This lets you search for your topic through the lens of that discipline. To do this click on the "Find Articles" tab on the library's homepage, then "databases by subject" to find databases in your discipline. 

Here's a little video that shows you how to do an all-EBSCO search.



Another terrific tool for this research is JSTOR. You can also limit by discipline for JSTOR or do a broad search across disciplines. 

Here's a quick video that shows how to do a discipline and date-limited search in JSTOR. Click on the small square in the bottom right of the video to make it full-screen. 

Another tool you might find useful, especially for books, is WorldCat. Searches in WorldCat will return books, articles, and other formats of library materials. You can also make use of Library of Congress Subject Headings on your topic while using Worldcat. 

Here's a little video that shows how to do a search in WorldCat, and how to use Library of Congress Subject Headings to find more materials. 



Another database with lots of journals related to technology is Sage Journals.

Here's a little video that shows how to search Sage.

Open Web Tools for Research


In case you're not already familiar with it, I'm including Google Scholar on this list. Google Scholar searches university and publisher webservers, institutional repositories, and other sources likely to have scholarly material. There may be some less than scholarly sources in your result list, however, so maintain vigilance. 

You can also optimize your Google searching with some advanced search tips. One of the easiest is restricting your search to a particular domain.

Here's a short video that shows you how to an advanced search of US military websites in the US and Afghanistan. 

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Historical News

The library's database, America's Historical Newspapers, includes papers from 1690-1876, including 350,000 fully searchable issues from over 700 historical American newspapers. 

New York Times Historical Access provides coverage back to the first issue in 1851, and up to the last 10 years or so. 


For a while, one of Google's projects was to digitize historical newspapers. They stopped the project, but you can still search the newspapers. Here's a little video that shows how to search Google News Archive.  

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A tool for searching historical newspaper collections across the US, sorted by geography.


Viewshare's Historical Newspapers Collections

Journals Related to Technology and Humanity

Below are a sampling of the library's journals related to technology and humanity. They're hyperlinked so you can click and browse or search them. You might be asked to enter your firstname.lastname and email password.

History and Technology

British Journal for the History of Science

ISIS: Journal of the History of Science in Society

Journal of Interdisciplinary History

Technology and Culture

Science, Technology, and Human Values

Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society


A Selection of Some Library of Congress Subject Headings: Technology and Humanity

Director of Library Services

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Dawn Emsellem
McKillop Library
Room 206
(401) 341-2336

Books on Technology and Humanity