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HIST 226: East Central and Southeastern Europe in in the 20th Century

Research guide for HIST 226 (Winter 2024)

Find historical monographs

What is a historical monograph?

Historians rely on what other scholars have already researched and written about a chosen topic. These are called as secondary sources. A book-length treatment of a topic, called a monograph, is a type of secondary source. Scholarly articles are also considered secondary sources for historical research.

What is meant by “historical” monograph is not that the book was written during the period that you are studying, but rather that the author is writing more recently about the past you are studying. Usually, that author is a professional historian who has done original research on the topic and is writing to help students and other historians understand that topic.

Mono, meaning one, is used because this type of book only has one author. Graph, meaning book or writing, signifies what the format is. So together, monograph means a single-authored book.

Where do I find a historical monograph?

The best place to search for a historical monograph is the Library Catalogue, which contains records for all of the books and eBooks available at the McGill Libraries.

How to search for a monograph

Begin by keyword searching, thinking about the concepts or terms that are most likely to appear in every book that will be of interest to you. This will likely include a geographical description as well as a chronological description, and perhaps another term focused on your topic. For example:

  • women late imperial austria
  • great war hungary humanitarian relief
  • nationalism yugoslavia


  • Use the format filter on the lefthand side to filter the format to Books. This will automatically exclude journal articles.
  • Be sure to pick a book with a single author, and not one with editors instead of authors or with chapters that each have a different author. These are not scholarly monographs.
  • Focus on books from well-known academic/scholarly publishers, such as those with "University Press" in the title (e.g., Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, McGill-Queen's University Press) or publishers such as Palgrave Macmillan, Routledge, Bloomsbury.
  • Not sure if a book is scholarly? Look up the publisher to see what types of books they usually publish (scholarly, trade, or popular), and look up the author to see if they are a historian (e.g., currently employed as a historian at a university, or have received a PhD in history or a related field).

How to contextualize your monograph

For Part 4 of your book review, you must answer the questions:

  • What does [your monograph] add to our understanding of the topic at hand?
  • How does it compare to other books?

To answer these questions, you will need to contextualize your monograph by doing some further reading.

To identify useful books to compare your monograph to, there are 3 methods you may want to try:

  1. Subject Heading searching
  2. Find related books using Google Scholar
  3. Search for scholarly articles


Subject Heading Searching

First, find the catalogue record for your book in the Library Catalogue. Then, scroll down to find the Subject Headings labeled "Library of Congress Subject Headings." Click on the subject heading that is most relevant to your topic. Limit your search to Format: Books on the lefthand side.

This will allow you to identify other monographs on the same topic(s) as yours.


Find Related Books using Google Scholar

First, navigate to Then, type in the title of your monograph. After searching, it should be the first result you see. At the bottom of the record, click the link that reads "Related Articles". This will run a search for items that Google Scholar thinks are related to your topic. 

Note that some of these results will be books, but others will be articles, dissertations, even conference proceedings. Additionally, not all of the items will necessarily be written by historians -- Google Scholar is multidisciplinary.


Search for Scholarly Articles

Scholarly articles can also help contextualize your monograph.


  • Remember to use the Historical Period limiter!
  • Limit your search field to AB: Abstract or Author-Supplied Abstract. This is especially helpful to excluding false hits due to author affiliation.
  • The results will automatically be displayed by Date Newest. This may be helpful to see what has been published since your monograph. However, consider re-sorting to Relevance to get the most relevant articles first.



Library Support

McGill University Collections Centre

Books are on the move from McLennan Redpath in Winter 2024!


Check on the progress of the move of the McLennan-Redpath Libraries' circulating collection at the Collections Centre website.

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