Gender, Sexuality, and the American Stage: Performing the Body Politic

Black Crook waltzes (1867). Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library. Image via New York Public Library Digital Collections. Public Domain.

Research Guide

Welcome! This page highlights key resources for conducting effective research for the English Senior Seminar Gender, Sexuality, and the American Stage: Performing the Body Politic.

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

Personal Librarians

Charlotte Price
108 LeFrak Center

Vani Natarajan
106 LeFrak Center



Quick links: Reference | Print & Media | Digital Collections | Historical Collections | Videos | Archives | Citing


Oxford English Dictionary and Historical Thesaurus contains over 600,000 word forms of words in the English language, with extensive etymologies and timelines of usage. You can also use the historical thesaurus to explore anachronistic phrasings and usage.

Finding Print and Media Materials

CLIO provides access to the vast resources of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library. Search the Catalog for book and media materials.

Tips for entering searches:

  • When entering search terms, use the * symbol to search for variant spellings and endings. The asterisk stands in for one or more letters. For instance, theat* searches theatre, theater, theatrical, etc. 
  • If you're searching terms together as a phrase, surround them with quotes. For instance, "performance art."
  • Use Boolean operators (and, or, not) to search terms together. More on Boolean logic.

Tips for exploring results:

  • Use the facet boxes on the left hand side of the results page. These will help you narrow down results by format, publication date, author/creator name, location, language, subject heading, and more. 
  • When exploring an individual record for an item, like a book or film, reaqd the table of contents and summary (if available) to help you determine the relevance of a source to your research goals. 
  • Use linked subject headings in item records to try out new searches. 
  • Text or email the call number to yourself. 

Explore beyond Barnard and Columbia: 

  • Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan are great options for requesting a book that isn't currently available at the Columbia libraries. 
  • Worldcat searches libraries worldwide. Using Worldcat, you can quickly find out if an item might be available at the NYPL, or another academic library (if the latter, try Borrow Direct or ILL to request from off campus).
  • The NYPL catalog searches the circulating and non-circulating research collections at the New York Public Library. The Archives and Manuscripts search page allows for exploration of special collections.

Digital Collections (Varied Formats and Genres)

American Memory (Library of Congress)  is a gateway to the Library of Congress’s vast resources of digitized American historical materials, with over 9 million items documenting U.S. history and culture. American Memory is organized into more than 100 thematic collections based on their original format, their subject matter, or who first created, assembled, or donated them to the Library. Original formats include manuscripts, prints, photographs, posters, maps, sound recordings, motion pictures, books, pamphlets, and sheet music. Collections may be browsed individually, searched individually (including full-text searching for many written items), or searched across multiple collections.

Readex Allsearch  offers access to comprehensive, full-text collections of newspapers, broadsides, government documents, pamphlets, and more, from 1639 to as recent as 1980. Includes multiple databases that can be cross searched or searched individually, among them:

Black Studies Center serves as a portal to resources in African American History, combining Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, The HistoryMakers Videos and full transcripts for 100 interviews, International Index to Black Periodicals (IIBP), historical black newspapers, Black Abolitionist Papers, and the Black Literature Index.

Digital Public Library of America contains millions of items - photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images, and more—from libraries, archives, and museums around the United States. Users can browse and search the DPLA’s collections by timeline, map, format, and topic; save items to customized lists; and share their lists with others.

North American Women’s Letters and Diaries includes 150,000 pages of letters and diaries from Colonial times to 1950. The material comes from journal articles, pamphlets, newsletters, monographs, and conference proceedings. Represented are all age groups and life stages, a wide range of ethnicities, many geographical regions, the famous, and the not so famous. More than 1,500 biographies enhance the use of the database.

OldNYC allows you to explore historical photos from the NYPL’s Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s collection. Photographs are attached, by location, to points on a map of all five boroughs of New York City.

Popular culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975 : rock and roll, counterculture, peace and protest

Popular Medicine in America contains books, trade cards, pamphlets, posters, and advertisements for medical information and self treatments marketed toward laypersons in the United States in the 19th century.

Umbra is a growing, searchable digital collection of over 400,000 sources related to African American history, from US cultural heritage institutions, museums, and archives. Umbra is developed by the Givens Collection of African American Literature at the University of Minnesota in partnership with the Penumbra Theatre Company.

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 includes 118 document projects and archives with 4,800 documents and more than 162,000 pages of additional full-text documents. Examples of movements covered: abolitionism, anti-war movements, civil rights, and reproductive justice.


Historical Newspaper, Magazine, and Journal Collections

Alt-Press Watch provides access to articles from the alternative and independent press from 1970 to the present, including city weeklies like Village Voice; LGBTQ and feminist publications; and a variety of periodicals related to social justice issues.

Historical Black Newspapers allows users to search and access articles, images, and other content from six leading historical Black newspapers in the US:

  • Atlanta Daily World (1931-2003)   
  • Baltimore Afro-American (1893-1988)
  • Chicago Defender (19019-1975)
  • Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005)   
  • New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993)
  • Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002)

Independent voices: an open access collection of an alternative press is an ongoing, four year project aiming to digitize over 1 million pages from magazines, journals, and newspapers from alternative press archives of participating libraries. Coverage spans the decades of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Currently, this includes many feminist, African American, Native American, Latino, LGBTQ, and campus radical publications. You can search the collection in full text, or browse by title or date.

Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers contains a searchable collection of digital facsmile images of newspapers, with some advertisements and illustrations included. The collection includes papers from a range of urban and rural regions in the U.S.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers includes full-text and full-image articles from older and, in some cases, more current issues of major American newspapers, among them:

  • The American Hebrew & Jewish Messenger‎  (1857 - 1922)
  • The Boston Globe‎  (1872 - 1984)
  • Los Angeles Times‎  (1881 - 1992)
  • The New York Times with Index‎  (1851 - 2012)
  • The San Francisco Chronicle‎  (1865 - 1922)
  • The Wall Street Journal‎  (1889 - 1998)

The Vogue Archive presents a searchable database of articles, covers, illustrations, photoshoots, and advertisements from the American edition of Vogue from its first issue in 1892 to the current month.


Video Collections

These are just a sample of the video collections that could be helpful - we'll be expanding the list, and any suggestions are appreciated!

60 minutes : 1997-2014 provides streaming video access to the 60 Minutes news show archive for the third and fourth decades of this long-running show, plus segments from the CBS News program Sunday Morning. Includes transcripts of the videos for ease of citation, and citation export. 

The C-Span Video Library records, indexes, and archives all C-SPAN programming for historical, educational, research, and archival uses. Every C-SPAN program aired since 1987, now totaling over 160,000 hours, is contained in the C-SPAN Archives and immediately accessible through the database and electronic archival systems developed and maintained by the C-SPAN Archives.

Meet the Press includes every surviving program from the show's inception in 1947 through the present day. All programs can be watched in streaming format and are fully searchable. All programs are provided with running transcripts.

PBS Video Collection assembles hundreds of documentary films and series from the Public Broadcasting Service, including Frontline, NOVA, American Experience, Odyssey, as well as films by Ken Burns and Michael Wood.

Silent Film Online brings together more than 500 films which together represent the basis of modern cinematic technique and film theory. The database covers silent features, serials, and shorts from the 1890s to the 1930s.


Act Up! Oral History Project collects and shares transcripts and, in some cases, streaming video of interviews with surviving members of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. You can also browse interviews using a subject index.

La MaMa Archives houses records that chronicle the theater’s history, and documents the development of Off-Off-Broadway theater; queer, African American, Asian American, Native American, Latino and international theater forms; and experimental theater practices of various kinds. It contains approximately 10,000 unique items, including posters, programs, scripts, costumes, puppets, masks, musical instruments, correspondence, photographs, and audiovisual materials. Production history is available for browsing online, and items can be seen by appointment.

Music in Gotham is a CUNY Graduate Center project that chronicles the New York music and theatre scene from 1862 to 1875. Drawing on newspapers and periodical sources as well as private diaries, beginning with the years following those covered in Vera Brodsky Lawrence’s three-volume set, Strong on Music: The New York Musical Scene in the Days of George Templeton Strong. Contains searchable database and narrative, covering the performance and reception, with details on cost of performances, venues, producers, cast members, dancers, etc.

NYPL Digital Collections acts as a living database of items digitized from the New York Public Library’s collections. New materials are added every day, among them prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, and streaming video. You can search images (with filters for date, genre, and other key features), or browse by collection. Some examples of collections that may be of interest: Billy Rose Theatre Collection Photograph FileAfricana and Black History Collection, and American Popular Songs.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Digital Archive contains over 70,000 items representing 40,000 artists are now digitally available, dating back to BAM's opening in the 1860s. Researchers can create personalized collections of digital items based on specific artists, companies, or eras. The archives contains items such a playbills, posters, audio recordings, photographs, and other ephemera.

Writing and Citing

Cite Source from Trinity College Libraries shows you how to cite books, articles, tweets, podcasts, art works, blog posts, and more in th efollowing styles: ACS, APA, APSA, ASA, Chicago, and MLA.

The Craft of Research (ebook, University of Chicago Press, 2008) offers guidelines and tips on all stages of the research process, from turning topics and questions into research problems, choosing and engaging sources, assembling evidence, drafting, revising, and more.

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.

Zotero is a free, open source program that allows you to quickly save, organize, format, and share your bibliographic citations. For extensive tips on installing and using Zotero, consult our Zotero Guide or the Zotero User Guide created by the program's developers.