Tap as an American Art Form

Research Guide

Instructor: Margaret Morrison

Personal Librarian: Megan Wacha

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Welcome! This page highlights key resources for conducting effective research in the history and practice of tap dance. When researching this topic, one must explore across multiple disciplines: American studies, African-American studies, jazz cultural studies, US performance history, and the history of popular entertainment (minstrelsy, vaudeville, Broadway, night clubs, film, jazz music, social dance, concert dance). While this is true when conducting research in any discipline, it is especially true when working in a traditionally marginalized area, such as tap dance.

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 | BooksMedia | Internet Resources

Reference Sources

Use a variety of reference works to familiarize yourself with key figures and basic concepts.

International Encyclopedia of Dance includes articles on all aspects of dance, including theatrical, ritual, dance-drama, folk, traditional, ethnic, and social dance. (Barnard Reference, GV1585 .I586 2004)

Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance provides information about theater and performance from ancient Greece to the present.

Tapworks: A Tap Dictionary and Reference Manual starts with a history of tap from the earliest beginnings to current trends, blending it with social history. (Barnard Reference, GV1794 .F555 2002)

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 of Gale Group, including the International Dictionary of Theatre and Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (Barnard Reference, E185 .E54 2006)

Harvard Guide to African-American History (Barnard Reference, E185 .H326 2001)

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

Research Technique: Locate the review of a production and then click/flip through the publication's pages to identify relevant historical and cultural events.

International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance contains all of the content available in International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance as well as full text for 100 titles, including Dance Chronicle, Dance Teacher, Dance Spirit, and Dance Magazine. 

International Index to the Performing Arts is a multidisciplinary index to the performing arts, including film. Includes full-text.

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.

Project Muse includes full-text articles from more than 200 scholarly journals in history and the humanities, the social sciences, and the sciences.

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



Browse the stacks using the dance call number range: GV1580-GV1799.4

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 American dance, Dance History, Dance in Motion Pictures, Jazz dance, Jazz tap, Tap dancers, or Tap dancing.
  • Conduct an advanced search and limit the format to Music Sound Recordings or Films / Video.
  • Remember you can limit search results to items physically held at Barnard
  • 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 those at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division (which holds the Gregory Hines Collection of American Tap Dance), the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Only a portion of the collections at the Billy Rose Theatre Division are searchable in the online catalog; some research will require using the card catalog on the 2nd floor of the Library for the Performing Arts.  


Media materials (DVDs, CDs) are available from the Media Collection on the 3rd floor of the Barnard Library.  Dance and music media are also located at the Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library and the Butler Media Center, as well as through various streaming resources.

Dance in Video contains streaming video files of dance productions and documentaries by influential performers and companies. Users may create their own playlists and custom video clips.

Naxos Video Library is a performing arts video collection with operas, ballets, documentaries, live concerts, and musical tours of historic places. Users may create their own playlists and custom video clips.

Jazz Music Library (Music Online) is a collection of jazz recordings which covers thousands of artists, ensembles, albums, and genres, from all over the world, from the beginnings of jazz to today.

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

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.

American Tap Dance Foundation

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

Divine Rhythm Productions

International Tap Association

Internet Movie Database

Internet Broadway Database

American Memory at the Library of Congress 

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