Search strategy
Here is a good, basic formula for getting started with your research in Comparative 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!
Finding books and reference sources
OBIS: Catalog of the Oberlin College Library Unrestricted Resource
OhioLINK Library Catalog Unrestricted Resource
WorldCat Restricted Resource
Summon -- searches across a wide range of library content, and not just books! It includes journal and newspaper articles, data, digital audio, video and images, and so much more. Try it and see what you can discover. 

Library of Congress Subject Headings (for use in OBIS, OhioLINK and other library catalogs):

Beauty contests


Feminine beauty (Aesthetics)

Beauty contests -- United States

Pageants -- United States -- History

Feminine beauty (Aesthetics) -- United States

Beauty contestants

Pageants -- United States -- History -- 20th century

Beauty, Personal

Beauty contestants -- United States

Beauty culture -- Social Aspects -- United States

Beauty, Personal -- Social aspects -- 20th century

Beauty culture



Other subdivisions to look for:

-- Anecdotes

-- Correspondence

-- Memory

-- Archival resources

-- Diaries

-- Personal narratives

-- Autobiography

-- Interviews

-- Sources

-- Biography

-- History

-- Speeches

-- Case studies

-- Homes and haunts        


-- Collective memory

-- Memoirs


Finding secondary sources
Ad*Access (1911-1955) Unrestricted Resource Resource contains images
Advertising Images from 1911-1955, arranged by theme: Radio, Television, Transportation, Beauty and Hygiene, and World War II. Also consider other digital collections at Duke, under "Advertising and Consumer Culture" or "Women's History."

America: History and Life Restricted Resource
Index of literature covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present.

A guide to alternative, radical, and left publications, which report and analyze the practices and theories of cultural, economic, political, and social change.

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.  Note: You can limit your search to a particular ethnic group. 

Gender Studies Database Restricted Resource
Combines Women’s Studies International and Men’s Studies databases with the coverage of sexual diversity issues. GSD covers the full spectrum of gender-engaged scholarship inside and outside academia.

LGBT Life Restricted Resource Some full text available
The definitive index to the world's literature regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues. 

SocINDEX Restricted Resource Some full text available
Provides users with a wealth of information encompassing the broad spectrum of sociological study.

Women's Studies International Restricted Resource
A composite of ten databases covering women's studies, women's issues, and gender-focused scholarship from throughout the world.
Research help
Useful for starting your research ...
Cultural encyclopedia of the body
Main Reference HM636 .C85 2008  (2 vols)
(also available as an ebook via OBIS)

The American beauty industry encyclopedia

Main Reference TT958 .A44 2010  
(also available as an ebook via OBIS)

For appearance' sake : the historical encyclopedia of good looks, beauty, and grooming
Main Reference GT499 .S49 2001  Library use only
Survival of the prettiest : the science of beauty
Main Library GT499 .E85 1999
Three faces of beauty : Casablanca, Paris, Cairo
Main Library GT499 .O77 2002
The most beautiful girl in the world : beauty pageants and national identity
Main Library HQ1220.U5 B36 1999  
(also available as an ebook via OBIS)
Beauty queens on the global stage : gender, contests, and power 
Not available at Oberlin; request via OhioLINK
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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