Jacob Lawrence's Harlem

Jacob Lawrence, Pool Parlor, Watercolor and gouache on paper, 1942. Metropolitan Museum of Art. metmuseum.org.

Research Guide for 
Jacob Lawrence's Harlem


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The following library research guides, while not created specifically for this course, can offer additional resources to help you with your research:


Elizabeth Hutchinson

Personal Librarian 

Meredith Wisner
Librarian for
Art & Architecture105 LeFrak Center, Barnard Hall



Beginning your Research | Finding Books | Image Collections | Finding Articles | Writing and Citing


Beginning Your Research

The following resources are useful for finding background information on topics, and getting an overview of a given subject, era, artist or scholar.

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias


  • Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon Online: Also known as Artists of the World Online, this database is the world's most contemporary, reliable and extensive reference work on artists. It contains authoritative, up-to-date biographical information on more than 1 million artists.
  • Heilbrunn Timeline of the History of Art: The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History presents the Met’s collection through a chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of global art history. Authored by the Met’s experts TOAH is comprised of timelines, essays, object details, and a detailed index, TOAH is regularly updated and enriched to provide new scholarship and insights on the collection. This tool is quite robust, and is useful for gaining a contextual understanding of particular periods, artists, or types of objects - even for research on objects outside the Met's collections.
  • Oxford Art Online: Oxford Art Online is the access point for key general reference resources in the arts: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, as well as other Oxford art reference resources. Through this database you can find subject entries, biographies, bibliographic citations, images, and image links.
  • Smarthistory: Smarthistory is an art history resource that has been collaboratively created by more than 200 art historians, archaeologists, curators and specialists who want to make the highest-quality art history learning content freely available to a global audience. The site offers videos and contextual essays arranged thematically and chronologically by culture.

Finding Books

  • CLIO Catalog: CLIO is the library catalog for the Columbia Library System (including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library). In CLIO you can find books and media materials, search for different kinds of databases, and find articles within those databases as well. 

    You can use the subject headings to navigate to other materials in the same topic areas. It's a great way to locate similar materials.

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, Watson Library: Thomas J. Watson Library is the central research library of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Its collection of books and periodicals relating to the history of art is one of the most comprehensive in the world. The primary mission of the library is to support the research activities of the Museum staff; in addition, it welcomes a broad range of students and researchers college age and above.
  • New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: The Schomburg Center, is a specialized research library within the New York Public Library system, with collections by and about Black culture in the United States.
  • NYARC Arcade: NYARC Arcade is the combined library catalogs of the Frick Art Reference Library and the libraries of the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum. These catalogs include records for special collections, auction catalogs, artists files and exhibition information.

Museum Image Collections

  • Artstor: Searchable database of digital images and associated catalog data, with new image collections added several times a year. ARTstor covers many time periods and cultures, and documents the fields of architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, design, anthropology, ethnographic and women's studies, as well as many other forms of visual culture. Users can search, view, download and organize images. 
  • Brooklyn Museum of Art: This database offers tombstone information about each of the objects in the Brooklyn Museum's collection, as well as exhibition history, contextual narrative and in some cases video and audio clips. High quality images are available for download for public domain works.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art: This catalog of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection offers detailed information on each object, high quality reproductions of public domain works, reference lists, and links to related full text resources published by the Met. It also connects to the Met's Heilbrunn Timeline of the History of Art, which offers contextual essays on individual works, creators, locations, and periods.
  • Museum of Modern Art: MoMA's catalog contains over 76,000 works of modern and contemporary art from the MoMA's collection of nearly 200,000 works. This database includes exhibition history, links to the Getty ULAN, and details on individual works of art.
  • National Gallery of Art: This database offers basic information about pieces in the NGA's collections, and also provenance, exhibition history, related information and bibliography.
  • New York Public Library Digital Collections (including the Schomburg Collection): This site is a living database of the New York Public Library's digital collections with new materials added every day, featuring prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, streaming video, and more. You can search public domain works by clicking on public domain below the search box.
  • Smithsonian Collections Search Center: The Smithsonian Collections Search Center is an online catalog containing most of Smithsonian major collections from their museums, archives, libraries, and research units. Collections include the Anacostia Community Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Museum of African Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum among many others.
  • The Studio Museum in Harlem: This collection database allows you to browse the Studio Museum's permanent collection. Click on the image to get further information about each work.
  • Whitney Museum: Explore the Whitney's collection of over 23,000 works, created by more than 3,000 American artists during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. See work on view in our galleries below, or browse the full collection.

Finding Articles

The following databases cover a wide variety of disciplines and are great to consult when trying to do research in multiple disciplines.

General Research

  • EBSCOHost (all 100+ databases)
  • Proquest (all 100+ databases)

  • Google Scholar: Google Scholar allows you to limit your search to find only scholarly materials on the open web. You can set Google Scholar to integrate with Columbia University's full text e-link system by clicking on the three bar menu in the upper left corner, selecting "Settings," then "Library Links" and searching for "Columbia University in the City of New York." Make sure to check the box for Columbia once you find it. Unlike most databases, Google Scholar also allows you to search for additional articles using its "Cited by" feature. Google Scholar "cited by" feature


  • Jstor: Jstor provides page images of back issues of the core scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences from the earliest issues to within a few years of current publication. Users may browse by journal title or discipline, or may search the full-text or citations/abstracts. New issues of existing titles and new titles are added on an ongoing basis.

Art History

The two most comprehensive databases for scholarship in the history of western art are:

  • Bibliography of the History of Art: BHA indexes literature on western art in periodicals, books, exhibition catalogs, and dissertations; with abstracts through 2007.  Includes Répertoire de la litterature de l'art (RILA) 1975–1989. Discontinued in 2007, has been succeeded by the International Bibliography of Art.
  • International Bibliography of Art: The definitive resource for scholarly literature on western art, retains the editorial policies of BHA, which made BHA one of the most trusted and frequently consulted sources in the field.

ARTBibliographies Modern: ABM provides full abstracts of journal articles, books, essays, exhibition catalogs, PhD dissertations, and exhibition reviews on all forms of modern and contemporary art. The coverage includes performance art, installation works, video art, computer and electronic art, body art, graffiti, artist's books, theatre arts, conservation, crafts, ceramic and glass art, ethnic arts, graphic and museum design, fashion, and calligraphy, as well as traditional media including illustration, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and drawing.

Art Source: Art Source contains Art Full Text, Art & Architecture Complete, Art Retrospective, and including many unique sources. It features full-text articles, indexing and abstracts for an array of journals, books and more.

Design and Applied Art Index: International index to over 130,000 annotated references from more than 500 design and craft journals and newspapers published from 1973 onward.

African American History and Culture

Black Studies Center describes itself as a “fully cross-searchable gateway to Black Studies.” The database combines Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, The HistoryMakers Videos and full transcripts for interviews with 100 contemporary African Americans, International Index to Black Periodicals (coverage up to 2006), historical black newspapers, Black Abolitionist Papers, and the Black Literature Index.

Black Thought and Culture offers full text access to works of non-fiction, written from colonial times to the present, by African American authors. Sources represented include books, articles essays, interviews and letters. Sources can be browsed by year of publication, historical events, author names, and more. Of note: The database includes fully scanned copies of the Black Panther Party newspaper from 1967-1980.

Historical Black Newspapers allows users to search and access articles, images, and other content from six leading historical Black newspapers in the US, including the New York Amsterdam News (1922 - 1993). 

Writing and Citing

Information on Intellectual Property and Citation Practice

Captions for Images

Ideally, a caption contains information that identifies the image/artwork being captioned, the place where that image/artwork was obtained (a book, museum website, or database like Artstor are a few examples), as well as the institution where the image/artwork is maintained. Captions for artwork should include the following details:

Title of work
Date of creation
Location of artwork (gallery, library, archive of museum)
Where image was found (museum website, book, database, etc.)

Example for an image obtained from an online database: 

Jacob Lawrence, Pool Parlor, 1942. Watercolor and gouache on paper. Metropolitan Museum of Art. metmuseum.org. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/488043.

Example for an image scanned from a book:

Jacob Lawrence, Pool Parlor, 1942. Watercolor and gouache on paper. Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Harlem Renaissance: A Historical Dictionary of the Era. by Bruce Kellner (ed.). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 1984: 215.

Online Help for Citing Sources

  • OWL: Purdue University Online Writing Lab provides general and subject specific writing tips and techniques, along with research advice and detailed citation and formatting standards for the APA, MLA, and Chicago styles.
  • CiteSource: Similar to OWL, this guide provides citation information for a variety of citation styles, as well as how to caption art work in Chicago style.

Software for Managing your Resources

Zotero is a free, open source program that allows you to quickly save, organize, format, and share your bibliographic citations.

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