Search strategy
Here is a good, basic formula for getting started with your research in Africana Studies.
  1. Begin by using the keyword brainstorming worksheet docx to help you tweak your research question, identify keywords and related terms, and keep track of what you find.  
  2. Search in a library catalog (Summon, OBIS, OhioLINK and/or WorldCat) to find books and reference sources.  They provide BACKGROUND and CONTEXT, review and SUMMARIZE earlier work, help you FOCUS your topic and provide CITATIONS to important books, journal articles, conference papers, interviews, etc.
  3. Next, search research databases to find articles. The Library has hundreds of databases available, but the ones listed below are good places to begin.
  4. You may also wish to use Google or Google Scholar to search the Internet.  Take advantage of Google's advanced search features!
  5. Finally, use the CRAAP test worksheet pdf to evaluate the sources you find!
What do YOU want to know?
  • Historical context/background -- what was Saint-Domingue/Haiti like during the time period you're interested in?
  • Who was present? Indigenous people, slaves, free people of color, Europeans? What brought them there? What was their impact on the society (socially, politically, economically, etc.)?
  • What types of documents exist about these people? Who is creating these documents? Why?
  • What are the people themselves writing? Why? What is being written *about* them? Why?

Start with some keyword brainstorming!
Using OBIS to identify primary sources
OBIS: Catalog of the Oberlin College Library Unrestricted Resource
OhioLINK Library Catalog Unrestricted Resource
WorldCat Restricted Resource

SOME Library of Congress Subject Heading possibilities
Hispaniola -- Maps Slavery -- St-Domingue
Hispaniola -- Maps -- Early works to 1800 Haiti -- Politics and government -- To 1791
Saint-Domingue Racially mixed people -- Haiti -- History
Blacks -- Haiti -- History Haiti -- History -- Revolution, 1791-1804
Slave insurrections -- Haiti Haiti -- Politics and government -- 1791-1804

Other LCSH subdivisions to look out for:

-- History 

-- History and criticism
-- Bibliography -- Sources
-- Criticism and interpretation -- Influence
--  Archival resources  



Search (almost) everything
Secondary sources
Note that some of these secondary sources may help you identify primary sources!

ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I Restricted Resource
Citations and abstracts for dissertations and theses on all subjects from around the world. Previews and full text available for some titles.

JSTOR Restricted Resource Some full text available
Scholarly journal archive for the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences;  most journals 2-5 years out-of-date

Historical Abstracts Restricted Resource
Index to thousands of academic journals covering world history (excluding the US and Canada) from 1450 to present, in over 40 languages, with full-text available. Dates of Coverage: 1955 to date

FRANCIS (International Humanities and Social Sciences) Restricted Resource
Indexes and abstracts international, multilingual, multidisciplinary resources in the humanities and social sciences.

Subjects: archaeology; art history; ethnology; French literature; geography; history of science and technology; information science; linguistics; management; philosophy; prehistory; religion; sociology. Dates of Coverage: 1984-

Research help
Oberlin Special Collections & Archives
Special Collections and the College Archives share space in the Goodrich room, which is located on the 4th floor of Mudd. 

Hours:  1:30-4:30pm M-F and by appointment
Rare, valuable published materials and objects of historic and artistic significance

Hours:  10am-noon, 1-4:30pm M-F
Unpublished materials and objects relating to the College and to some degree, the town
Reference sources
Afro-Americana, 1553-1906 : a catalog of the holdings of the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania  
Main Ref  Z 1361.N39 E185 P48 2008  

American Bibliography; A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets, and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America From the Genesis of Printing in 1639 Down to and Including the Year 1820
Main Ref Z 1215 .E92 vols. 1 - 13 
Searching for primary sources
Charles Evans's magnum opus is one of the sources you should definitely explore. For many years, he was busy compiling a chronological, annotated bibliography of everything published in the United States through the year 1820.  This monumental achievement laid the groundwork for future generations of scholars and librarians to reproduce rare and unique texts and make them available to researchers all over the world, first on microfiche and now in digital formas Early American Imprints (links below).

American Bibliography; A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets, and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America From the Genesis of Printing in 1639 Down to and Including the Year 1820.  Main Ref Z 1215 .E92 vols. 1 - 13 

Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans (1639-1800) Restricted Resource Some full text available
Full-text, searchable scans of source material of all types from the 17th and 18th centuries; an important resource for primary information about every aspect of life in 17th- and 18th-century America.

Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker (1801-1819) Restricted Resource Some full text available
Primary source matierial of all types documenting American  history from 1801-1819.

Caribbean Newspapers, Series 1: 1718-1876
Historical Caribbean newspapers most published in the English language; some also in Spanish, French, and Danish.

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
This historical map collection has over 54,000 maps and images online. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North American and South American maps and other cartographic materials. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia, and Africa are also represented.

Internet Archive
Free access to digital collections including music, video, web sites and millions of public-domain books.

Open Library

Open Library is an open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every book ever published. 

Nineteenth Century Collections Online Restricted Resource Some full text available Resource contains images
Collections include: British politics and society; European literature 1790-1840: the Corvey Collection;  Asia and the West: Diplomacy and cultural exchange;  British theatre, music, and literature: high and popular culture.

Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive. Part I: Debates over Slavery and Abolition Restricted Resource Some full text available
In addition to newspaper collections and books published in the antebellum era, Slavery and Anti-Slavery contains documents from several archives originally available only on microfilm. 
Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database Unrestricted Resource
Contains information on almost 35,000 slaving voyages that forcibly embarked over 10 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Other resources
  • Keyword brainstorming exercise -- use this worksheet to help you tweak your research question, identify keywords and related terms, and keep track of what you find
Writing & citation help


ProQuest RefWorks is a citation management tool that helps researchers gather, manage, store and share information, as well as generate citations and bibliographies in a wide variety of styles.
  • Search - OBIS, OhioLink, PubMed & Scopus
  • Share - Folders via URL
  • Store - PDFs online and take notes
  • Read - Search your references fulltext and save searches
  • Write - Create a simple reference list and use Write-N-Cite to format paper in Microsoft Word
  • Check out our video tutorial!
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