University Library & Learning Resources Center

HIS 450: African-American Search for Identity
Mr. English

Reference Sources | Journal Articles | Books/Book Reviews
Special Collections & Archives | World Wide Web
Interlibrary Loan | Citing Your Sources
Your Comments

The purpose of this course research guide is to acquaint you with some of the University Library's resources and others on the World Wide Web useful for researching your topic. This is not a comprehensive list of resources but rather a starting point. For a lengthier list of resources for research in history, refer to the course research guide for HIS 400: Historiography. Should you have questions, stop by the Reference Desk on the 1st floor. You may also call the Reference Desk at (334) 229-4110 during the hours the Library is open.


Reference Sources

Reference books available on the 1st floor in both Reference and Special Collections are an excellent place to start your research. Often they can help you explore topics before choosing one or to narrow or broaden a topic you're considering. They provide names of people and places, dates, events, definitions, citations for works on your topic, and much more. This information can later be used to search for articles and books.

Library of Congress Call Numbers

Reference books are arranged by Library of Congress call numbers, which always begin with one or more letters related to the subject of the book. Take some time to browse the call number areas listed below to become familiar with some of our reference books. You may also search HORNetCat, the Library's online catalog, to identify the locations for other reference books.

  • D - Europe, Asia, Africa
  • E - America
  • F - United States, Canada, Latin America
  • HA - Statistics
  • HC - Economic History
  • HN - Social History
  • J - Political Science
  • K - Law
  • Z - Bibliographies

Subject Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

These works focus on a subject area like history. Some are broader in perspective covering history in general. Others concentrate more specifically on, perhaps, time periods, cultures, social movements, race/ethnicity, or countries. They provide a brief foundation of information you'll find useful when you begin searching for journal articles, books, and other information sources. Subject encyclopedias also serve you well if you are having touble finding a topic or narrowing a broad topic.

Some examples of subject dictionaries and encyclopedias are listed below. You can find others by browsing the appropriate call number areas. Also try a builder search in HORNetCat for the words encyclopedia or dictionary in the title in addition to other words that might appear in the title.

  • Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History
    Special Collections Reference: E 185 .E53 1996
  • Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery
    Special Collections Reference: E 441 .D53 1997
  • The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery
    Special Collections Reference: HT 861 .H56 1997
  • Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Present
    Special Collections Reference: E 185.61 .E54 1992
  • Historical Dictionary of the Civil Rights Movement
    Main Reference: E 185.61 .L84 1997
    Special Collections Reference: E 185.61 .L84 1997
  • The Encyclopedia of Civil Rights in America
    Special Collections Reference: E 185.61 .E53 1998
  • African-American History & Culture (ASU)

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Journal Articles

Much of the scholarly literature in history is published in journals. The best method for finding journal articles is to use one of the Library's online article databases. For additional information on the databases listed below and for others, explore our list of databases. These databases are easily accessible off campus by clicking on the database name and typing in the information requested. If you need additional assistance with accessing the databases, contact Cedric Davis (334 229-6998) or Randy Curtis (334 229-5604).

History Databases

Additional Databases

Not all of our databases provide access to the entire text of articles. If the text of an article is not available in a database, consult the following sources:

  • Serials Solutions (ASU) - to determine if the article is available in another online database.
  • HORNetCat - lists journals to which the Library subscribes. These are housed in the Serials Department on the third floor.
  • Interlibrary Loan - order those articles not available in the Library or via a full-text database.

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Books & Book Reviews

Because of their length, books provide an in-depth look at topics. The call number areas listed under Reference Sources also apply to the books in the Main Stax (books that can be checked out). Browsing is a valid technique for finding books you may have overlooked in your research. Also don't forget to read reviews of books.


Book Reviews

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Special Collections & Archives

The Special Collections & Archives on the Library's 1st floor house multi-media materials representing African-American history and culture. These materials must be used in the Special Collections area. For additional information, also consult the The The National Center PortalPortalfor the Study of Civil Rights & African-American Culture web site.

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World Wide Web

The World Wide Web is an outstanding but often bewildering source of information. Not everything you find will be authoritative, accurate, and valid. Try searching one of these to find more reliable Web sites.

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Interlibrary Loan

The University Library provides a valuable service called Interlibrary Loan. We can order books, copies of articles, and other materials not in our Library to help you complete your research. Interlibrary Loan forms are available at the service desks on the 1st, 3rd, and 4th floors.


Citing Your Sources

A copy of A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Turabian) is available at the Main Reference Desk on the first floor of the Library.


Your Comments

Please take a few minutes to let us know what you think about this guide. Has it helped with your research? Do you have any suggestions for improving the guide? You may e-mail Barbara Hightower ( or call her at (334) 229-6839 with your comments and suggestions.

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Course Research Guides | Information Literacy Program

Alabama State University | University Library & Learning Resources Center

Alabama State University
University Library & Learning Resources Center
Authored by: Barbara Hightower, Information Literacy Librarian
All contents copyright 2004, ASU. All rights reserved.
March 5, 2004