Search strategy
  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 Summon
Book Search
Search OBIS
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. 
Finding primary sources (including video)
August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand (PBS documentary)
Unprecedented access to Wilson’s theatrical archives, rarely seen interviews and new dramatic readings bring to life his seminal 10-play cycle chronicling a century of African-American life. Wilson won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama.

Contains public service announcements, newsreels, documentaries, and archival footage documenting American history.

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

Lots of great material.  Use it, but have a healthy skepticism about the origins and autheticity of videos!
Africana Studies
Black Studies Center  
Black Studies Center combines many resources for research and teaching in Black studies: Schomburg studies on the Black experience, International index of Black periodicals (IIBP), The Chicago Defender, ProQuest dissertations for Black studies, and Black Literature Index. This fully cross-searchable gateway to Black studies includes scholarly essays, recent periodicals, historical newspaper articles, and much more.

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.

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.
ARTstor Restricted Resource Resource contains images
ARTstor has collections of over 500,000 digital art images and associated data that can be used for noncommercial and scholarly, non-profit educational use.

Art Full Text (1984 to date) Restricted Resource Some full text available
Featuring full-text articles, indexing and abstracts from an international array of publications, this database is a comprehensive resource covering fine, decorative and commercial art, as well as photography, folk art, film, architecture and much 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

Language & Literature
MLA International Bibliography Restricted Resource
Index to books, essays, and journal articles on modern languages, literatures, folklore and linguistics. Topics include literary theory, criticism, folk literature and belief systems, linguistics, semantics, translation, dramatic arts, and history of printing and publishing. Covers literature worldwide and includes materials in all genres and in foreign languages. Dates of Coverage: 1926 to date

Literature Resource Center Restricted Resource
Full-text database that includes author biographies and work overviews, literary criticism, and indexed books, essays, and articles on world literature.

Humanities International Complete Restricted Resource Some full text available
Index to journals, books and reference sources in all humanities disciplines, as well as selected original creative works including poems, fiction, photographs, and illustrations, with some content available full-text.

Dictionary of American Regional English (online edition)
The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is a multi-volume reference work that documents words, phrases, and pronunciations that vary from one place to another place across the United States.
Grove Music Online Restricted Resource Some full text available Resource contains images
Online music encyclopedia, offering comprehensive coverage of music, musicians, music-making, and music scholarship.

Naxos Music Library Jazz Restricted Resource Some full text available Resource contains images Resource contains audio
Thousands of streaming titles from the Fantasy catalogue and Naxos Jazz. Search by album or song title, featured artist(s), or catalog number. Includes album covers and liner notes.
Theater & Dance
International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance Restricted Resource Some full text available
Full text of journal articles on all aspects of theater and performance, plus indexing for books, book articles and dissertation abstracts.
Performing Arts Periodicals Database Restricted Resource
Indexes over 200 scholarly and popular performing arts periodicals. Also indexes a variety of documents such as biographical profiles, conference papers, obituaries, interviews, discographies, reviews and events. Dates of Coverage: 1864 to date
Research help
News & Newspapers
Ethnic NewsWatch Restricted Resource Some full text available
Full-text coverage of newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press in America. Dates of Coverage:  1959 to date

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
Online reference tools
Oxford English Dictionary  Main Reference PE1625.O87 1989 
The accepted authority on the evolution of the English language over the last millennium - a guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of over half a million words, both present and past. 

Oxford Reference
More than 100 dictionaries and encyclopedias in the humanities and social sciences from Oxford University Press (does not include the OED).

Gale Virtual Reference Library 
More than 100 dictionaries and encyclopedias in the humanities and social sciences from a variety of publishers.  
Print Reference Sources
American Decades  
Main Reference     E169.12 .A419 1994 (11 volumes)

American Eras
Main Reference    E169.1 .A471979 1997 (8 volumes)

American writers: a collection of literary biographies
Main Reference     PS129 .A55 suppl. pt. 8

Black literature criticism : excerpts from criticism of the most significant works of Black authors over the past 200 years
Main Reference     PS153.N5 B556 1992 (3 vols)

Black literature criticism : classic and emerging authors since 1950

The Cambridge companion to August Wilson / edited by Christopher Bigsby
Main Library     PS3573.I45677 Z6 2007

Juba to jive : the dictionary of African-American slang
Main Reference    PE3727.N4M34 1994  

Green's Dictionary of Slang
Main Reference     PE3721 .G677 2010 (Also available as an ebook)

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life in America
Main Reference    E169.1 .G7553 2009  (4 volumes)

The Twenties in America
Main Reference    E784 .T84 2012  (3 volumes)

The Thirties in America
Main Reference    E169.1 .T475 2011 (3 volumes)

The Forties in America
Main Reference    E169.12 .F676 2011 (3 volumes)

The Fifties in America
Main Reference    E169.12 .F498 2005 (3 volumes)

The Sixties in America
Main Reference    E841 .S55 1999 (3 volumes)

The Seventies in America 
Main Reference    E169.12 .S447 2006 (3 volumes)

The Eighties in America
Main Reference    E876 .E347 2008  (3 volumes)

The Nineties in America
Main Reference    E839 .N56 2009  (3 volumes)

Black talk : words and phrases from the hood to the amen corner 
Main Library PE3102.N4 S65 2000 

The Oxford companion to African American literature
Main Reference PS153.N5 O96 1997 (Also available as an ebook in OBIS)
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!
Back to TOP