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Medieval Christianity

A guide to resources in the Jessie C. Eury Library on Medieval Christianity.

Researching the Church in the Middle Ages

Researching the history and theology of the Church in the Middle Ages can be a daunting task. After all, the time period alone spans at least one thousand years. Thus, no libguide can give you all the tips you will need to do research in this time period. Many decisions you will have to make on your own. However, there is some help we can provide. Below we have some information on tips for finding resources both for your bibliography and your research paper.

Basic Search Tips

To begin, you will, of course, need to already have some idea about what or whom you want to write. Let's say, for instance, that wish to research St. Francis of Assisi. You could begin by doing simply an "Any Word Anywhere" search, this, however, could land you with over ten thousand results. One excellent way to narrower down your search results in our catalog begins by clicking "Advanced Search".

Once the "Advanced Search" screen appears, type in the first search bar "Francis, Saint"--this is usually how anyone who is a saint in the Catholic or Orthodox churches is listed in our catalog--then go over to the right hand side where it says "Search by" and select "By and/or About a Person". This will allow to see all the books we have in our library both by and about St. Francis (or anyone else). This is especially useful for when you are putting together your bibliography.

Your other options for more specific results would be "Subject" searches to find books on your topic and "Author" searches to find books by a specific person from the Middle Ages.

When doing an "Author" search, you might come to a page that lists names and variations in one column and the number of books associated with that name in another. If your search produced a name, but no books, look to the left and see if there is a "See Also" button. If so, click this and it will take you to a page with all the works we have by that author. This happens when they are multiple ways of classifying, spelling or arranging an individual's name. Make sure you check all the "See Also" links connected with your person. You never know what might find.

Building Your Bibliography

For this class, you will need to put together a bibliography on certain topic (whatever your project topic is going to be) of approximately 120-150 sources. You will need to make sure that you use: our library catalog; I-Share; EBSCO; ATLA; Worldcat. . You will also want to utilize the bibliographies found in some of the books you want to use for your project. Remember, all of your sources need to be in Turabian format. This sometimes means you need to make changes in formatting, even if the website puts the sources into a bibliographic format. Most notorious for this is EBSCO/ATLA.

When you want to put something you've found using one of our journal databases (i.e. EBSCO, ATLA) there is typically an option for citing it. Click this and the select Turabian: Humanities, NOT Turabian: Dates this is a different format than what is expected from you. Simply selecting Turabian: Humanities, however, is not enough. If you are a Mac user and have pages, you will need to keep track of where the italics go since these will not be carried over from the database to your document. For all users, for one reason or another, our journal databases do not put article titles in a headline format, that is, they do not capitalize all nouns and verbs. You must do this in order to correctly cite these articles.

Remember, the cite this article/book option and even many online citations helps are just that, helps. These do not replace simply going to the most recent edition of Turabian and memorizing at least the most common kinds of citations you will need to use.

Author

David Mosely, LCU 2011 graduate and Church History major, provided this guide to research in church history. 

David has now received his doctorate in church history.