How to Find Stuff

-From Your Seniors Whove Been Through It All


Stand on the shoulder of giants, goes the famous quote from Newton, and what Newton said couldnt be a stronger imperative than in writing highschool history papers. It is utterly important that you lay your hands on most of the major works on your topic out in the academia; in other words, you need to identify the giants and gain access to the shoulders of those giants. Unfortunately, KMLA is not the ideal place to conduct such research. In order to gain access to the books and journals that you need, you will have to put in extra effort, and the following are some of the places you might want to start your search in order to minimize your time and effort, which are scarce resources for all KMLAians that should be saved for reading, thinking, and writing the actual paper.

I. How to Find Book Titles
I.1 The Traditional Way : General Bibliographies
I.2 The Traditional Way : Special Bibliographies
I.2a The Traditional Way : General Bibliographies on History
I.2b The Traditional Way : Scarecrow's Historical Dictionaries
I.2c The Traditional Way : Statesman's Year Book
I.3 The Modern Way : Internet Search
I.3a The Modern Way : Google
I.3b The Modern Way :
I.3c The Modern Way :
II. How To Access The Books
II.1 The Traditional Way : Libraries
II.1a The Traditional Way : KMLA Library
II.1b The Traditional Way : Seoul National University Library
II.1c The Traditional Way : National Library
II.1d The Traditional Way : Myongji Lucky Gold Star Collection of Foreign Books on Korea
II.2 The Modern Way : Online Libraries
II.2a The Modern Way : Gutenberg Library Online
II.2b The Modern Way : Questia
II.2c The Modern Way : KMLA Library + RISS4U
III Primary Sources
III.1 Yearbooks
III.2 Newspapers
IV. Mr. Ganse


I    How To Find Book Titles                      

    The Traditional Way : General Bibliographies                      

Before the internet age, booksellers, scholars and librarians needed to know what books were presently available. For that purpose, catalogues were printed such as British Books in Print, Verzeichnis Lieferbarer Bücher (Index of Books which are 'in print', in German) etc. They would be issued annually or biannually as heavy multivolume editions; research libraries have shelves and shelves of such catalogues. Students at college are expected to thoroughly go through such catalogues to hunt for titles relevant to their research. If, after having handed in your doctoral thesis, you enter the examination room and somebody asks you : "Why did you not use this book ?", examination over, work it in and come back in three months.
Mr. Ganse has one year's issue of the two catalogues listed above, for practice. One outdated year's issue is of little practical value; one needs to find a library which has a complete set going back decades if not centuries. [G]

    The Traditional Way : Special Bibliographies             

a    The Traditional Way : General Bibliographies on History             

John Roach, A Bibliography of Modern History, Cambridge UP 1968 [in Mr. Ganse's office]
Written for scholars; lists c. 6000 titles published until 1967, mostly in English, but also in French, German, Italian, Spanish. Largely disregards non-European history, publications written in languages other than the major European languages. Largely disregards modern approaches to history such as the history of the position of women in society, environmental history. Students who plan to write on modern European political, economic, religious and social history should go through this book. Disadvantage : books published after 1967 are not listed.
Similar limitations described in the case of this general bibliography on books on modern history may apply to similar publications not discussed here. [G]

b    The Traditional Way : Scarecrow's Historical Dictionaries            

Scarecrow / Rowman & Littlefield publish a series of Historical Dictionaries by country. These volumes were compiled by experts in the field, and, in addition to the Historical Dictionary, contain a detailed bibliography.
For example : The first edition of the Algeria volume was published in 1981, the second edition in 1994, the third in 2006. The bibliography section in the third edition fills pages 505-572, with 15-20 entries per page. The quickest access to a comprehensive scholarly bibliography I know. As a new edition is published about every ten years, the source, unlike the book by Roach listed above, does not age.
Disadvantage : volumes are almost exclusively issued for presently existing countries. The Korea volume deals with the history of the Republic of Korea since 1945.
click here to find a list of Historical Dictionaries accessible at KMLA. [G]

c    The Traditional Way : Statesman's Year Book            

The Statesman's Year Book is issued annually since 1864 and published concise information about the states and territories of the world. For example, the Korea entry of the 1902 edition (pp.843-846) has a short bibliography on p.846, listing 19 titles.
click here to find a list of Statesman's Year Books accessible at KMLA. [G]

    The Modern Way : Internet Search            

a    The Modern Way : Google            

The Google Trio refers to the Google Web Search (, the Google Book Search (, and the Google Scholar ( The Google Web Search is a good place to start a preliminary research or to test the viability of a potential topic. But to entirely rely on the Web Search is to only look at the tip of the iceberg; much of the information on the Internet cites books and professional studies, which is where the rest of the iceberg lies. The Web Search often yields better results when you search for PDF files only; this is possible by adding filetype:pdf at the end of the sequence of your search-words. Another tip is to put quotation marks around your search-words to search for exact phrases; for example, little ice age, instead of little ice age, filters all the irrelevant information about the other ice ages. Next, the Google Book Search allows you to search for certain keywords in the text of among the one million books that Google has digitized. Varying from book to book, typing in a keyword in search in this book will either return you a few sentences in which that keyword is included or the entire page in which that keyword is included to provide you a context. The Google Book Search is a useful tool to verify the relevance of the title of a book that you have obtained during your research. Lastly, the Google Scholar allows you to search through all kinds of scholarly literature - books, magazines, papers, mostly journals. In a few lucky cases, you will be provided with the entire article, but in most cases you will need subscription to the periodical. You will eventually have to go to a library to get access to these articles, but even at a library, searching for scholarly articles is often most efficiently done through Google Scholar. [S]
Using keyword search in search engines such as google may turn out a number of publications. However, there are a few problems; one, google turns out 10,000s or 100,000s of findings - who ever clicks to see them all ? But it may well be that what you are looking for is way down the list. If the word you look for, in the title you try to find, is spelled differently, google will not find it. Thus whatever you find is somewhat accidental. [G]

b    The Modern Way :            

From the point of a scholar, a poorly maintained website; commercial, not supplying complete bbliographic data. Strong, but not complete, in 'in print' books. Does offer used books, but there are better sites doing so.   [G]

c    The Modern Way :            

If you cant find a book here, you might as well give up. It sells 100 million used-books and is the worlds largest used-book store. However, the biggest problem is that it takes too long – 2 weeks via air mail, 6 weeks to 3 months via surface mail, according to Mr. Ganse – for the book to arrive. Prices vary greatly from book to book – anywhere from $1 to exorbitant amounts of money plus overseas shipping charges. It is often convenient to own books on your research topic. [S]
The leading website offering used books. Abebooks is not a bookseller, but rather combines the catalogues of thousands of antiquarian booksellers. For history researchers, it is irrelevant if a book is in print or out of sale; at abebooks you are much more likely to find what you are looking for, than at sites offering 'in print' books.   [G]

II    How To Access The Books                      

    The Traditional Way : Libraries                      

a    The Traditional Way : KMLA Library                      

A small library; students will often experience that the library does not offer what they look for. Also, our librarian is in the habit of scattering history books all over the place; only if the word 'history' appears in the title, may one be sure that it is listed under history.
Students who write term papers and research papers in history at KMLA are expected to use the library; if a paper is handed in which does not use a significant book on the topic we have in the library, this will result in a significant point deduction.
Professors at university complain about the internet generation, lazy students who want to conclude their studies exclusively on the internet. This is a bad habit. [G]

b    The Traditional Way : Seoul National University Library             

University libraries are good to look for books and journal articles. The Seoul National University (SNU) Library is not only the largest university library, but also the most open to the public. In order to get in, you must present your ID card () and those who arent of age yet must accompany their parents. Not all books are found, but it does have a surprisingly large collection of English books. Since you cant borrow the books, you will have to copy relevant pages from your books. The SNU library is more strongly recommended for those looking for journal articles; on any of the library computers, you can download the PDF files of most of the journal articles you search on Google Scholar (refer to the explanation under The Google Trio). However, getting there and back can be a little tricky: if youre taking public transportation, get off the subway at SNU station and join one of the extensive lines for the buses 5513 or 5511 and get off at the SNU library bus stop. To get back to the subway station, you must get on buses 5512 or 5516. Its a good idea to search the website ( for books or journal subscriptions to see if its worth the trip. [S]

c    The Traditional Way : National Library            

The National Library is by far the largest library in Korea and it is more accessible than university libraries. You can get in if you have your ID card () and if you are not of age yet, you simply have to fill out a form stating your purpose of visit. However, in spite of being the largest library, its collection of English books is only comparable to that of the SNU library because the National Library focuses mainly on Korean books. Access to scholarly journals is further limited, and I recommend looking elsewhere in case of journals. However, it is easy to get to - located in the vicinities of the Seoul Express Bus Terminal – and again, it is open to under-age teenagers as well. The majority of the books are located in the archive which is inaccessible to the public directly, and thus you must request for a certain book on the first floor, and wait about 20 minutes for the book to arrive. The library also provides mailing service via its website (, given that you know specifically which chapters and which pages you need to copy.

d    The Traditional Way : Myongji Lucky Gold Star Collection of Foreign Books on Korea             

Contains several thousand volumes of books etc. published since 1598, in languages such as English, French, German, Latin, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Russian, Hungarian, Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese. The books were collected by the criterion of relevance to Korea; many of the books focus on the Far East in general, on China, Japan, the Russian Far East. For students writing on the history of the region, an excellent source. At present, the collection is held in the library of Yongin campus of Myongji Library; visits have to be arranged ahead of time; a permit for using the library has to be requested. Catalogue of their holdings of books published prior to 1950 accessible (Mr. Ganse) [G]
Update April 2008 : Catalogue has been published - Sung-hwa Cheong and Alexander Ganse, Bibliography of Western Language Publications on Korea 1588-1950. The Myongji-LG Korean Studies Library, Seoul : Myongji UP 2008, 358pp., 2123 entries

    The Modern Way : Online Libraries                      

a    The Modern Way : Gutenberg Library Online                      

Access free of charge; has the transcribed texts (no images) of thousands of books, in English, Dutch, Finnish, Chinese etc. Books in the fields of literature, history strongly represented; most of the books are 100 years old or older (expired copyright). Keyword search limited to words appearing in the title.   [G]

b    The Modern Way : Questia                      

Questia is the largest online library of 67,000 books concentrating mostly on the humanities. Its collection is chosen by professional collection development librarians, so what you find on Questia is very likely an important book in the field. The best part of Questia is that you have access to the books any time, anywhere as long as internet access is available. You can copy the text and figures and save it on your laptop in case you have to work without internet connection. However, you must pay $20 per month to subscribe; which is not an unreasonable price considering the help available from Questia for not only history project papers, but also Mr. Ganses monthly papers, and the occasional literature term papers for those who take literature. [S]

c    The Modern Way : KMLA Library + RISS4U              

Dont expect much, but its a place to start. Not only are a number of books available at the library itself, but also many scholarly articles are accessible through RISS4U ( of which the KMLA library is a member institution of. Copies of entire journal articles or segments of books are delivered to the KMLA library within a week, as long as what you are looking for is stored in one of the RISS4U member institutions. All fees will be covered by the KMLA library. In essence, RISS4U allows indirect access to the major Korean university libraries without you having to visit Seoul; yet, it does not provide access to the online journals that the universities have subscribed to – which is a major setback because in the case of the SNU library, 21,000 journals are online, while only 7,000 journals are in paper.

III    Primary Sources                      


Encyclopedias publish new editions about every 10 to 15 years. A problem - in the meantime they get outdated; in order to update the information many encyclopdias publish yearbooks. A collection of such yearbooks provides brief information on the major events which happened in the report year. Users should be aware that some yearbooks have the report year on the cover, others the year of publication (= report year plus 1). click here to find a list of Year Books accessible at KMLA. [G]

b    Newspapers            

There are a number of newspapers which have made their entire archives accessible online. The Times of London did, but requires fees which for high school students are exorbitant; the New York Times. in this aspect, is very user-friendly. Click here to find a list of (historical) newspapers accessible online. The first history research paper based largely on the NYT as a source has been completed (click here). [G]

IV    Mr. Ganse          Not Rated

Its needless to say you should always visit Mr. Ganse to update your progress on your project. On whatever stage you are in, it should be your top priority to consult him first; he always has helpful comments to give and books to recommend. [S]


-Note to Readers and Potential Contributors-
This article is a developing article. For it is impossible for any single person to obtain comprehensive know-how regarding all of the endless varieties of approaches possible towards a history paper, it is open for mending and adding to anybody who believes he or she has familiarized with a database worth sharing with others. Regardless of the amount of contribution, what all contributors to this article share is the hope that the next generation of history paper-writers will not have to waste time and effort reinventing the wheel.


First Contributor – [S] Shin Kim (
Second Contributor – [G] Alexander Ganse (