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History of Christianity Guide: Searching Orbis

2. History of Christianity Subject Headings

Many works in the history of Christianity can be found by starting with the subject heading church history.

Church history further subdivides into a number of more specific subject headings, such as

subject headings relating to time periods, for example:

  • church history - 10th century
  • church history - 11th century
  • church history - 12th century
  • church history - 20th century

subject headings indicating types of materials, for example:

  • church history - bibliography
  • church history - dictionaries
  • church history - periodicals
  • church history - early works to 1800

Many of these subdivisions can be combined, for example:

  • church history - 17th century - bibliography

ne recommended way to start searching is to begin from the Simple Search page, type in church history and select Subject in the Search In dropdown box.  You can then browse through the catalog list to see how this topic subdivides.

Another option is to start from the Advanced Search page, type in your subject terms in the different search boxes, select Subject from the Search In dropdown box, and combine the search on your subject terms with And.  If you don't get many results, retry the search but change Subject to Keyword from the Search In dropdown box.

1. Searching by Subject

The Subject search option is used to retrieve records using Library of Congress (LC) Subject Headings. The LC Subject Headings are terms or phrases that have been designated as the standard word or phrase for every subject.

For example, if you were doing research on the history of Christianity in Germany, you might start by typing in church history Germany and selecting Subject as the search type from the Search in: dropdown menu. 

search on church history Germany

The Subject search will bring you into a browsable list of all the subjects starting with church history Germany.  You can then see how many works are available in the library on this topic and also how it subdivides into narrower subjects such as Church history--Germany--1919-1945, Church history--Germany--19th century, Church history--Germany, 20th century, etc. Click on any of these subject headings to see the titles available at the library.

3. Searching by Keyword

If you don't know what the LC Subject Heading is for a particular subject, you can try doing a Keyword search to locate works on your topic. A Keyword search is broader than a Subject search, in that you are searching for your search term in every part of the record.

A Keyword search will bring you directly to a list of titles that have those terms anywhere in the record.  Once you have found a work doing a Keyword search that corresponds to your topic, click on the record and look at the Subject Headings; you may see the appropriate subject heading listed, and then you can either click on that subject heading or do Subject search to find other works on that topic.

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