On Writing: My Top Tip For Doing Historical Research


Research Tips

Hey Readers! This is going to be a short post with hopefully a great idea for doing research for your novels. I write historical fiction and have accrued a ton of books on subjects from Roman history to World War II. Some of these books, mostly none fiction, have been expensive. As much as I dearly love my books, my budget is smaller than my obsession to buy more. Now that I've move, my house is also smaller and I've had to curate my library. 

I am currently writing a book set during the Texas revolution. Of course the first thing I did was hit the bookstore to see what I could find. I do live in Texas, so there was a handful of recently released books about the battle for Texas Independence. But, what I was really looking for was something written from the Mexican perspective, and that I could not find. So, off to the library.

Major disappointment met me at my local library. I found nada about Mexican history. Hard to believe that in Texas, I could find nothing about the country who is our neighbor and whose citizens live all around us. Going online, I googled books about Colonial Mexican history and found several that were current. Using the interlibrary loan system, which is a Godsend, I was able to get my hands on two great books. Thank you, University of Kansas for sending them! 

Despite finding these wonderful books, I wasn't getting the information I was after, the day to day operations of the Mexican Army during the short conflict with the rebel Texians. Again going to the internet, I hit pay dirt. And this is my tip for y'all who may not have thought about this. Are you ready?

PhD Dissertations and Master's Thesis

Yep. I hit the motherload with this. Dissertations and Theses from years ago are now uploaded and available for you to read. I found a thesis entitled: Mexican Military Movements in the Texas Revolution and it had exactly what I needed, 200 pages of it! Maps, lists, battle diagrams, the whole kit and caboodle. I can't tell you how excited I was to find it and so far, it has been invaluable to my WIP.

Using the website www.oatd.org I was able to find over 90 studies applicable to my search.  These works are from universities all over the world. A search for Tudor England brought up over 300 papers on all manner of topics. Many can be read online or downloaded as a PDF. The best part about these papers is that they drill down into very specific aspects of their topic, they're not just a general overview of the larger picture. 

Well, that's it. My tip of the day. I hope you find what your looking for in your research, but be sure to have  peek to see if there is more! 


  1. Excellent tip, especially for those who haven't done this sort of search while in graduate school. Still, I must admit it is quite depressing to read about the dearth of relevant materials in your library in Texas.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts