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Bowdoin College Library

Science and Society, Hist 1022: Home



  1. Learn about the breadth and depth of databases available to scholars.
  2. Develop experience choosing among databases based on type of coverage.
  3. Learn some techniques for searching databases such as
    • expand your results using truncation, often using "*". For instance, the following will find "accident", "accidents", and "accidental": accident*
    • Boolean searching using OR (to expand your results), AND (to narrow), and sometimes NOT (to narrow), e.g.
      (nuclear OR radiation) AND (accident* OR meltdown)
    • narrow your results using phrasal searching, e.g. "china syndrome"
    • narrow your results using field searching, e.g. subject


  • Choose a film. (The film can be the one you intend to analyze for your paper or it can be one chosen just for this exercise.)
  • For each of the categories in the Databases box below, make an informed choice of one database to search for materials. That is, search in one database under "CBBcat", one under "Newspapers", one under "Periodical articles - multi-disciplinary, including general interest periodicals", etc. If you have already narrowed down your topic, you might want to omit categories that are less likely to have relevant materials.
  • If you have not yet narrowed down your topic, search for materials pertaining to each of the three approaches to this paper. Otherwise, search for materials that are likely to be most relevant for your topic.
    1. the production process
    2. the presentation of the science in the movie
    3. the public reaction to the movie
  • You might start by searching on the name of the film as well as related topics, names, and/or places. Develop a vocabularly to search on from the materials that you find.
  • Report back to the class as you find databases that are especially fruitful.


Library Catalog

Library catalog shared with Colby and Bates. Your first step when searching for books.


ProQuest Newspapers
Full text of over 1300 newspapers, news websites and blogs from leading publishers throughout the world. The database includes backfile for most newspapers, providing access to articles, columns, editorials, obituaries and features published in each paper. Major newspapers include the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, The Guardian and many other national and regional titles.

OneSearch, limiting your search to just newspaper articles.
The single most comprehensive tool for searching the Library's print and electronic resources.

New York Times, 1980- or New York Times Archive, 1851-2009

Periodical articles - multi-disciplinary, including general interest periodicals

Academic Search Complete
Multi-disciplinary database of scholarly and general interest periodicals, covering articles published back to 1980.

Readers' Guide Retrospective, 1890-1982 (online)
Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, 1983- (online)
Main Per Index, 1900-2012 (print)
Index to a broad range of U.S. general interest magazines and journals.

Periodical articles - multi-disciplinary, scholarly articles only

Archive of full-text articles from selected scholarly journals. Coverage begins with a title's first issue but usually does not include the most recent years.

An abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature in science, technology, medicine, social sciences and arts and humanities. It is strongest in the sciences.

Periodical articles - Humanities and Social Sciences

Project Muse
Articles from scholarly journals from major university presses covering literature and criticism, history, performing arts, cultural studies, education, philosophy, political science, gender studies, and more.

Periodical articles - Film

Film and Television Literature Index
A comprehensive bibliographic and full-text database covering the entire spectrum of television and film. Subject coverage includes film & television theory, preservation & restoration, writing, production, cinematography, technical aspects, and reviews.

Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive
An archival research resource containing primary sources for studying the history of the film and entertainment industries, from the era of vaudeville and silent movies through to 2000. The core US and UK trade magazines covering film, music, broadcasting and theater are all included, together with film fan magazines and music press titles.

More databases for articles on Film that might be useful for your papers.

Periodical articles - History

America: History & Life
Primary index for scholarly research on history of the United States and Canada. Articles published 1964-present.

Historical Abstracts
Major index of history scholarship, covering the history of Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America. Publications originate throughout the world, from 1960 to present.

Periodical articles - Science

General Science Abstracts, 1984-
Subject coverage includes astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, conservation, health & medicine, oceanography, physics, zoology and much more.

ScienceDirect, 1823-
Full-text scientific database offering journal articles and book chapters from more than 2,500 peer-reviewed journals and more than 11,000 books.

ProQuest Agricultural & Environmental Science Database
This database includes the AGRICOLA, ESPM, Toxline, and EIS databases and provides full-text titles from around the world, including scholarly journals, trade and industry journals, magazines, technical reports, conference proceedings, government publications, and more.

Government publications (Optional. Recommended if likely to be relevant for your topic or if you enjoy the serendipitious find.)

Publications from all three branches of government, including Congressional Record, Congressional Hearings, Compilation of Presidential Documents, and Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States.
" searches over 60 databases and over 2200 selected websites from 15 federal agencies, offering 200 million pages of authoritative U.S. government science information including research and development results."

Subject Guide

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Barbara Levergood
Bowdoin College
H-L Library, Office 110B
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Bowdoin College Library
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