To conduct the preliminary research for my topic, I decided to use the WorldCat, WorldCat Dissertations and Theses from WorldCat, and America: History and Life databases. Even when entering the same keywords, each database provided me with different sources (which, I suppose, is part of the benefit of using a variety of databases). WorldCat provided me with a lot of sources that would probably offer contextual information for the type of project I am considering. WorldCat Dissertations helped me find some works produced by other Masters or Ph.D. students that have focused on natural disasters. America: History and Life search results were similar to those offered by WorldCat, though I have to say I find the WorldCat database to be easier to search through.
Because I still have not decided on one particular disaster but am leaning toward flood disasters or floods as a result of dam failure, I used keyword combinations such as “dam” + “disaster” or “flood” + “disaster”. In every database, I found that these keywords provided greater results than when I used specific events as keywords, i.e. “mill river dam” + “disaster”.
The search process did not necessarily change the ways I have been thinking about my research project, but it did give me a better idea of what information is currently circulating. While part of me eagerly anticipates the prospect of tapping into a specific disaster that has not been previously covered, I am also increasingly aware of how difficult it may be to find secondary sources on such a topic. However, I was surprised at how much contextual information was readily available on disasters, though I will not be sure which of this information will be useful until I determine the exact perspective that I will use in my project. I believe the next step will be to take a closer look at the dissertations I added to my Zotero, as these will reveal how scholars have been approaching similar topics or disasters in their respective works, and perhaps reveal a perspective that I can utilize in my own.