Don't forget that these databases contain primary AND secondary sources, so you have to determine if the information is given from the original source (e.g. I saw the bank robbery! = primary), or it's being presented by someone who gathered the information from someone else (e.g. they saw the bank robbery! = secondary)
It's sometimes hard to tell -- in which case, you can ask us (your Norco College Librarians) or your professor for more help.
Try combining a primary source type (such as speech, correspondence, letter, diary) with the topic you are looking for example: "American civil war speeches" or "gold rush diaries"
You should be able to search for your topic in three words or less. Less is more!
Be creative: try different words that describe the same thing. Perhaps find one source and look for phrases or terms that may be different than what you originally thought of -- write them down and search for those!
If you're still having problems finding what you're looking for, contact us or stop by the reference desk -- We are happy to help!