African American Women & Music

Research Guide

Instructors: Maureen Mahon

Personal Librarian: Megan Wacha

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Welcome! This page highlights key resources for conducting effective research for BC3517 African American Women & Music. If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please use the link above to schedule a research consultation with me.

Reference Sources | Journal Articles and Reviews | Books | Media | Internet Resources | Citing Song

Reference Sources

Use reference works to familiarize yourself with key figures, basic concepts and terms.

Gale Biography in Context is a comprehensive database of biographical information on over 320,000 people from throughout history, around the world, and across all disciplines and subject areas. It combines 780 volumes from Gale, including Contemporary Musicians and Contemporary Black Biography.

Grove Music Online includes the full text with ongoing updates of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., and The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed.

Oxford African American Studies Center is a comprehensive collection of scholarly reference resources focused on African American and African history and culture.

Journal Articles and Reviews

Humanities Full Text brings full text (starting 1995) plus abstracts and bibliographic indexes (starting 1984) of noted scholarly sources in the humanities, as well as lesser known specialized magazines.

International Index to Music Periodicals (IIMP) Full Text contains more than half a million indexed articles, plus detailed abstracts and full text from 1874 to the present, covering the scholarly to the popular.

JSTOR includes full-text articles from more than 1200 scholarly journals.

Proquest Historical Black Newspapers provides cultural perspective and insight to the events that shaped the US in the twentieth century.

Proquest Historical Newspapers offers full-text and full-image articles from major American newspapers.

Or search multiple databases simultaneously:

Find Articles



CLIO (Columbia Libraries Information Online) is the online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library.

CLIO Search Tips:

  • Use catalog records to identify useful subject headings such as African Americans -- music, African American women, Jazz, Music, Music by women composers, Musicians, Women, Womanism, Women musicians,  
  • Conduct an advanced search and limit the format to Music Sound Recordings or Films / Video.
  • Use keyword searches to locate items, and then go to the stacks and browse those items as well as the ones nearby

The NYPL Catalog searches the circulating and non-circulating research collections at the New York Public Library, including the Music Division at the Library for the Performing Arts and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture


Media materials (DVDs, CDs) are available from the Media Collection on the 1st floor of the Barnard Library, the Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library and the Butler Media Center. There are also a number of useful streaming resources:

Music Online cross-searches audio, video, scores, and full-text reference content from all Alexander Street Press music databases.

Naxos Jazz Music Library includes thousands of jazz titles, which may be searched by featured artist(s), disc / song title and catalogue number.

Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries a virtual encyclopedia of the world's musical and aural traditions documenting the creation, continuity, and preservation of diverse musical forms. Includes "Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions," conceived and compiled by Bernice Johnson Reagon.

Internet Resources

It's important to evaluate the reliability and scholarship of information one finds both in print and online. Use the guidelines detailed in the Evaluating Web Resources guide when assessing a site's authenticity.

Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, including the Multimedia Center

American Memory at the Library of Congress 

Citing Song

The performing arts are collaborative and the conventions for citing them are not as fixed as they are for print resources. Citations tend to list the name of the artist first, placing composer and performer information after the album title.

Simone, Nina. "Porgy" The Best of Nina Simone. Tomato Records, 2005.
[artist.] [“title of piece.”] [title of album or longer work.] [production company, year.]

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