Poets and Correspondences

Wheatley, Phillis (1776). Excerpt of letter to Obour Tanner. Image from Swann Galleries, via Wikimedia Commons.

Research Guide

Welcome! This page highlights key resources for conducting effective research for the English Senior Seminar: Poets and Correspondences.

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

Personal Librarian

Vani Natarajan
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Finding Books 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, including published collections of correspondence.

(Hint: You may wish to include the keywords correspondence or letters in your search string. Alternately, using the Refine box on the search results page, limit by Subject:Genre to Correspondence.)

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, which include many collections of literary correspondence.

Poets House features a library of poetry and books about poetry---they also host a variety of programs. Located in Battery Park City.

Worldcat searches libraries worldwide. If a title isn't available via Columbia University Libraries, you may request it via Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan.


Journal Articles

America: History and Life covers the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. Journals index run from 1964 to the present. Cross-search with Historical Abstracts, which covers world history outside of North America.

Gender Studies Database covers journals, conference papers, books, book chapters, government reports, theses and dissertations in Gender Studies.

Humanities Full Text features citations and abstracts from scholarly sources in the humanities, as well as lesser known specialized magazines.

JSTOR includes page images of key scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences, with a particular strength in Languages and Literatures. Coverage spans the mid-19th century to the present.

MLA International Bibliography features citations and abstracts to scholarly articles on literature, language, linguistics, and folklore from around the world, with coverage from 1923 to the present.

Project MUSE provides full text scholarly journal articles, with citations and abstracts, from key sources in the humanities, with a special strength in literary studies. Content is updated daily, and coverage is extremely current.

Proquest allows for cross searching of 80 databases in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Among those included: Alt-PressWatch, Arts and Humanities Full Text, GenderWatch, and MLA International Bibliography, as well as a substantial collection of scanned historical newspapers.


Primary Sources: Letters Not Published in Books

ArchiveGrid allows researchers to explore materials held in over 1000 different archives, museums, libraries, and special collections. Use the search to discover document collections in New York City and beyond.

Barnard Archives and Special Collections acts as the final repository for materials pertaining to the history of Barnard College. The collection also includes a wealth of primary sources related to women's history, including the Overbury Collection, whcih features manuscripts and correspondence by many American women writers.

CLIO: Archives allows you to search for records and finding aids of archival materials held at the Columbia Libraries (Except for Barnard, see above link).

Emily Dickinson Archive

First World War Poetry Digital Archive

James Merrill Digital Archive

Mary Webb Digital Archive

Walt Whitman Archive: Correspondence


Primary Sources: Historical Periodicals

Search these sources for historical newspapers and magazines (including literary journals).

American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries features full-color scans of serials archived at the Center for Research Libraries. Sources span the 19th and early 20th centuries, and are fully searchable.

British Periodicals provides scanned facsimile page images from British periodicals from the late 17th to the early 20th century. Fully searchable. Tip: To look for poems published in literary journals, select "poem" under the menu for "Document Type" under "Search Options."

Gale Newsvault combines several historical newspaper collections into one searchable platform.

Periodicals Archive Online archives full text facsimile pages of articles from hundreds of journals in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Includes over 300 literary journals. Tip: Select "find journals by subject" to narrow down your search to a specific type of source.

Proquest features full text and full-image articles (all searchable) from historic newspapers (tip: Select "change" from the top bar of the screen to select specific papers within which you'd like to search, or a combination of them:



Start here for biographical and bibliographical background research.

Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism includes almost 300 entries and subentries on critics and theorists, critical schools and movements, and literary criticism and theory in specific regions of the world across history. You can browse or search articles in full text. Each article features a bibliography of works cited, organized into two sections: “Primary Sources” and “Secondary Sources.”

OED Online provides a complete historical record of the English language. It's the largest dictionary of the English language, containing 615,000 word forms with 139,900 pronunciations, 219,000 etymologies, and 2,436,600 quotations, along with timelines and historical thesauri.

Oxford Bibliographies offers thoroughly researched annotated bibliographies of scholarly sources on a wide range of topics across disciplines. You may wish to try searches for specific authors, literary movements, or historical periods.

Oxford Reference Online offers full text of 100 searchable reference tools, including subject dictionaries and mythology dictionaries.


Writing and Citing

The Craft of Research (electronic book) offers advice on all aspects and stages of the research process.

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 and open-source citation management program that enables users to gather, organize, format, and share bibliographic citations with ease, from a variety of sources.