Names are crucial to finding historical information. As you do your research, make a list of all the names that have significance (including any alternate spellings).
When searching a database or on the Web, try these tips:
The first step of the research process is an exploration of the overall topic of interest, with the eventual goal of formulating your guiding research question. As you do this, you'll get a sense of what is known on the subject, and likely learn of subtopics and related topics, some of which you may find of particular interest. As you follow your interests, you will focus on more specific aspects of your topic.
During this process, write down the words and names you find used to describe the topic and your (ever more) specific focus. These words (and their synonyms) will help you to uncover additional information sources.
Here are some ways to explore your topic:
As you browse through these items, collect names, words, and phrases (including variant spellings and synonyms) that describe:
Who — Names of individuals, entities, or groups of people, i.e. William Hooper, C. Brewer & Co., Ltd., U.S. Congress
What — Names of events, documents, artifacts, etc. i.e. Sugar, "sugar trade", "sugar industry", "Treaty of reciprocity between the United States of America and the Hawaiian Kingdom", "Kuʻikahi Pānaʻi Like", "Reciprocity Treaty of 1875"
When — Date(s) or era
Where — Place names; specific place, regional name, continent, etc.
Why — The objectives of an action, or the context that led to it, etc.
How — Strategies, methods, or means by which something happened