First Year Seminar: The Americas II

Van Vechten, Carl. Portrait of Zora Neale Hurston. Library of Congress. Image via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain. 






Research Guide

Welcome! This page highlights resources and research strategies in support of the First Year Seminar: The Americas II.

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




Personal Librarian:
Vani Natarajan
106 Lefrak Center

Getting Started    Finding Books and Other Materials   Articles   Citing
English Department Guide: Reinventing Literary History


Getting Started

For background information on your topic, start with reference works, like encyclopedias, handbooks, companions, and dictionaries. These can help you explore concepts and terms; they can also lead you to other relevant sources.


Finding Books and Other Materials at the Columbia Libraries

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, postcolonial* searches for postcolonial, postcolonialism, postcolonialist, etc.
  • If you're searching terms together as a phrase, surround them with quotes. For instance, "Latin America."
  • 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.


Finding Scholarly Articles

America, History and Life with full text covers scholarly literature on the histories of the United States and Canada. Its companion database, Historical Abstracts, covers world history (including Central and South American history) from 1450 to the present. They can be searched at once on the EBSCO platform.

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 (IIBP), historical black newspapers, Black Abolitionist Papers, and the Black Literature Index.

Handbook of Latin American Studies presents carefully annotated citations to scholarly articles, books, and other resources in Latin American Studies.

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.

JSTOR provides access to core journals in many scholarly fields, including History, Literature, Sociology, and Women's Studies, from the earliest issues to within a few years of current publication.

MLA Bibliography indexes critical materials on literature, languages, linguistics, and folklore. Proved access to citations from worldwide publications, but not the full text article. If an e-link does not work, consider ordering the article via ILL or contact your personal librarian.

Proquest Direct is a multidisciplinary database of magazines, newspapers, scholarly journals and dissertations, including the full text of the New York Times from 1851 to the present.


Databases Specializing in Latin American and/or Spanish Language Periodicals

If you are looking for critical and analytical scholarly articles and books from Latin America or Spain (including work written in Spanish), consult these databases.

Bibliografía de la literatura Española desde 1980 provides citations for journal articles and books in the history and criticism of literature in Spanish, published between 1980 and the present, but covering time periods back to the Middle Ages. Search interface and descriptive terms are in Spanish.

DialNet  features scholarly journal articles from Spain and Latin America, in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

HAPI Online features citations to articles and book reviews in scholarly journals published in Latin America and the Caribbean, or those dealing with topics relating to Latin America, the Caribbean and Latino/a Americans.


Podcasts is a full-text search engine and recommendation site for podcasts and radio. 

Dare to Use the F-Word: A Podcast for Young Feminists from the Barnard Center for Research on Women

Stitcher, an app for listening to podcasts on computers and mobile devices. The website has a search function that can help in finding podcasts by keyword.


Citing Your Sources

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.

Zotero allows you to store your references conveniently, and cite them in papers and bibliographies using any citation style you choose. For help, see the Barnard Library  Zotero Guide.

Purdue University Online Writing Lab offers formatting and style guides for APA and MLA.


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