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Introduction to Research

How to turn your topic into a search, search through library resources and the web, evaluate what you found, improve your writing and citation, and get help from a librarian.

Special Collections

Special Collections

Case Study: Searching in Special Collections

Here's a quick story on how using Special Collections can work!

Shanika's paper topic is urban agriculture in Memphis. She wants historical information to use as background material. She went to Special Collections (4th floor of McWherter Library) to find some information!

Brigitte in Special Collections was able to assist her. Brigitte, an expert archivist, directed Shanika to The Memphis Press Scimitar. This image shows the card catalog holding all of the index cards:

Photograph of the Memphis Press Scimitar card catalog.

While Shanika is looking for urban agriculture as a term, she and Brigitte play around with the keywords to find terms that work. While she couldn't find urban agriculture in the card catalog, the term urban gardening resulted in some useful articles that Shanika thinks will work for her paper!

Here's a close-up of a card from the card catalog. It has the subject information, Press Scimitar Number in the upper-left hand corner, a note about what subject is covered in the article, and date.


Using the card from the card catalog, Brigitte is able to pull up the article for Shanika:


Shanika can use this in her paper to show the history of urban gardening efforts in Memphis in the 1980s. It also gives Shanika a lead on more research: the Urban Garden Program! She can look up the program in the Libraries' QuickSearch for articles (and cite those, too!).