Search strategy
Here is a good, basic formula for getting started with your research in African American 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!
Search (almost) everything
Book Search
Search OBIS
Subject headings for use in library catalogs
These Library of Congress subject headings may be used in OBIS, OhioLINK, WorldCat and many other library catalogs! This is not an exhaustive list -- you may come across many other useful headings, depending on your topic.

African American Women
African American Women Artists
African American Women – Biography
African American Women – Civil Rights
African American Women – History 
African American Women – Political Activists
African American Women – Political Activity
African American Women – Religion
Civil Rights – United States
Civil Rights – United States – History
Women, Black
Women, Black – United States
Women, Black – United States – History

Other subdivisions to look for:           
– Interviews                             – Archival sources
– Biography                             – Speeches
– Case studies                        – Archives
Personal narratives               – Diaries
– Memoirs                              – Correspondence
– History                                – Autobiography
Research databases
Academic Search Complete Restricted Resource Some full text available Resource contains images
Multidisciplinary - good for nearly all subjects. Scholarly and trade journals, popular magazines, newspapers, conference proceedings, book reviews, and more.

African American Newspapers (1827-1998) Restricted Resource Some full text available
Provides online access to hundreds of historical U.S. newspapers chronicling the African American experience. Dates of Coverage: 1827-1998

African American Periodicals (1825-1995) Restricted Resource Some full text available
More than 170 periodicals by and about African Americans, published in 26 states. Includes academic and political journals, commercial magazines, institutional newsletters, bulletins, annual reports and more.

America: History and Life Restricted Resource
Index to research on the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. Indexes articles and book reviews from more than 1,700 journals published in more than 40 languages. Dates of Coverage: 1964 to date

Black Studies in Video
Features documentaries, news reels, and archival footage covering the Black experience in the U.S., including history, politics, family structure, gender relations, socio-economics, arts and music, religion, and more. NOTE: We currently have trial access to this database, and it ends on December 11, 2015. If you use it, please fill out this quick evaluation form and let us know what you think!

Black Studies Center Restricted Resource Some full text available Resource contains images Resource contains video
Covers the Black experience from ancient Africa to the modern day from perspectives in history, literature, political science, sociology, philosophy, and religion. Also includes the full text backfile (1935 to 1975) of the influential black newspaper The Chicago Defender.

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

MLA International Bibliography Restricted Resource
An index to books and articles published on modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics. Coverage includes literature from all over the world.  THE source for scholarship on literatures and languages. 

Oxford African American Studies Center Restricted Resource Some full text available
African American and African history and culture including biographies, topical entries, primary source documents with commentary, images, maps, charts, tables, and more.

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.

Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000 Restricted Resource Some full text available
Archival document collections covering women's activism throughout US history, including papers of prominent organizations and individuals.

Women's Studies International Restricted Resource
Nearly 800 essential sources including journals, newspapers, newsletters, bulletins, books, book chapters, proceedings, reports, theses, dissertations, NGO studies, Web sites & Web documents, and grey literature. Dates of Coverage: 1972-
Research help
Books and reference sources
African American lives / general editors, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham
Main Reference         E185.96 .A446 2004         LIB USE ONLY

Belabored professions : narratives of African American working womanhood / Xiomara Santamarina
Main Library             PS366.A35 S26 2005         AVAILABLE
Also available as an ebook through OBIS

Encyclopedia of African-American culture and history : the Black experience in the Americas / Colin A. Palmer, editor in chief
Available as an ebook through OBIS

Epic lives : one hundred Black women who made a difference / Jessie Carney Smith, editor 
Main Reference         E185.96.E65 1993           LIBRARY USE ONLY
News & Newspapers
See the NEWS & NEWSPAPERS page for finding guides to major newspapers and links to other news databases.

African American Newspapers (1827-1998) Restricted Resource Some full text available
Provides online access to hundreds of historical U.S. newspapers chronicling the African American experience. Dates of Coverage: 1827-1998

Ethnic NewsWatch Restricted Resource Some full text available -- A full-text database of the newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press which represent the diversity of the American population in ways that are generally not seen in the mainstream media.

New York Times (1851-2014) Restricted Resource Some full text available -- Provides the complete full text of the New York Times. It is possible to search for keywords and also browse images of the complete pages.

LexisNexis Restricted Resource Some full text available -- Provides access to a wide range of news, business, legal, medical and reference information most of which are available in full text. The service includes newspapers, magazines, wire services and legal sources.
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 and 5:30-9pm on Mondays (or by appointment)
Rare, valuable published materials and objects of historic and artistic significance

Hours:  10am-noon, 1-4:30pm M-F, and 5:30-9pm on Mondays (or by appointment)
Unpublished materials and objects relating to the College and to some degree, the town
Beyond Oberlin (the web!)
WorldCat (under QUICK LINKS on the Library homepage)
You may already be familiar with using WORLDCAT to locate and borrow books and other items that Oberlin and OhioLINK don’t own. TIP! You can limit your search to archival materials, too!
Digital library/archive of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts that exist in digital form, including moving images, live music (concerts), audio/MP3s and texts.
Black American Feminisms: A Multidisciplinary Bibliography
An extensive bibliography of black American feminist thought from across the disciplines (humanities, social sciences, and health, medicince & science).
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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