Urban Studies

Wikimedia Commons

Guide to Finding
the Best Resources

Welcome! This page highlights key resources for conducting effective information research in urban studies.

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

Personal Librarian: 
Jennie Correia
208E Lehman Hall

Browse the stacks using the urban studies call number range:

Urban Studies call range:  HT; see also HD (land use), HE (transportation), NA (aesthetics)

HT51-1595         Communities. Classes. Races.
HT51-65             Human settlements. Communities.
HT101-395         Urban groups. The city. Urban sociology.
HT165.5-169.9   City planning.
HT170-178         Urban renewal. Urban redevelopment
HT201-221         City population. Including children in cities, immigration.
HT231                Effect of city life.
HT251-265         Mental and moral life.
HT321-325         The city as an economic factor.
HT330-334         Metropolitan areas.
HT351-352         Suburban cities and towns.
HT361-384         Urbanization. City and country.
HT388               Regional economics. Space in economics.
HT390-395         Regional planning.
HT401-485         Rural groups. Rural sociology.
HT601-1445       Classes.
HT621-635         Origin of social classes.


Recommended databases


Academic Search Complete. This full-text database contains more than 6,100 full-text periodicals, including more than 5,100 peer-reviewed journals going as far back as 1887. In addition, it offers indexing and abstracts for more than 10,100 journals and a total of more than 10,600 publications including monographs, reports, conference proceedings, etc.

America, history and life with full text (also known as: ABC-CLIO history online). Index of literature covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. The database indexes journals from 1964 to present and includes citations and links to book and media reviews.

Annual reviews (also known as: AR). Provides critical reviews of topics in biomedical biomedical, physical and Social Sciences published as annual journals.

Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals.  Citations to articles in worldwide architecture and related periodicals with primary emphasis on architectural design and history but coverage as well of archaeology, landscape architecture, interior design, furniture and decorative arts, garden history, historic preservation, city planning, urban design, real estate development and environmental studies.

Emerging markets information service : (EMIS). Containing full-text news, financial and economic information on emerging market countries  Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East-North Africa.

HUD.GOV Bibliographic Database. This resource is the only bibliographic database exclusively dedicated to housing and community development issues. It consists of more than 10,000 full-abstract citations to research reports, articles, books, monographs, and data sources in housing policy, building technology, economic development, urban planning, and a host of other relevant fields.

Index to Current Urban Documents. The resource features citations and municipal records including plans, surveys, and budgets from approximately 500 U.S. and Canadian cities and counties. Online version covers late 1990s onward.

Journal of Planning Literature. This quarterly publish journal includes review articles and abstracts of recent literature in city and regional planning and design. A typical issue contains refereed literature reviews; a Council of Planning Librarians (CPL) Bibliography; abstracts of recent journal articles and dissertations; and bibliographic listings. JPL offers an understanding of the state of knowledge of the field for use in research or professional practice.

LexisNexis academic. This full-text database features over 18,000 sources including newspapers, journals, wire services, newsletters, company reports and SEC filings, case law, government documents, transcripts of broadcasts, and selected reference works.

PAIS International (Public Affairs Information Archive). Searchable in the PAIS International through one interface, this resource indexes articles, books, conference proceedings, government documents, book chapters, and statistical directories in the area of public affairs. Topics include business, government, international relations, banking, environment, health, social sciences, demographics, law and legislation, political science, public administration, finance, agriculture, education, and statistics.

Sociological Abstracts. Abstracts and indexes the international literature in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. The database provides citations from 1963 to the present to journal articles, book reviews, books, book chapters, dissertations, and conference papers. Records for journal articles added after 1974 contain in-depth abstracts.

Urban Studies Abstracts. This resource features bibliographic records covering essential areas related to urban studies, including urban affairs, community development, urban history, and other areas of key relevance to the discipline. Records are selected from many of the top titles within the discipline, including Journal of Urban Affairs, Urban Studies, and Canadian Journal of Urban Research.

Census Data

American FactFinder. This resource provides population, housing, economic and geographic data for the United States.

Center for Economic Studies (CES). Public use microdata and Synthetic microdata available for researchers from the United States Census Bureau.

Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS). This free resource provides demographic and historical research using the U.S. Census microdata.

Social explorer. Helps to visually analyze and understand the demography of the U.S. through the use of interactive maps and data reports. Primary functions include Demographic Data Analysis, Interactive Map/Report Design and Software Development.

State of the Cities Data System (SOCDS). Produced by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), this resource offers data for individual Metropolitan Areas, Central Cities, and Suburbs.

The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS). Free of charge, NHGIS provides, aggregate census data and GIS-compatible boundary files for the United States between 1790 and 2011.


American Landscape and Architectural Design 1850-1920. This collection of approximately 2,800 lantern slides represents an historical view of American buildings and landscapes built during the period 1850-1920. The collection offers views of cities, specific buildings, parks, estates and gardens, including a complete history of Boston's Park System.

Catena: Digital Archive of Historic Gardens & Landscapes. Searchable collection of historic and contemporary images of landscape design centered on the Italian villa of Catena.

Columbia University Geographic Information Systems. CU provides useful resources including the CU Spatial Data Catalog, general information on GIS resources and workshops.

Columbia University Spatial Data on the internet resources.

Digital Sanborn maps, 1867-1970. New York/New Jersey. This collection of large scale fire insurance maps from the Sanborn Ma Company, provides detailed information about New York and New Jersey locations. Details include information such as street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, the size and shape and construction materials, and much more. Textual information includes construction details, ownership and building use.  

Lehman Library Map Collection. Resources for different types of maps in CU’s Lehman Social Science Library.  

NYPL Digitized map collection. Explore the digitized atlases, maps from the New York Public Library collection.

NYPL Maps Warper. This tool digitally overlays historical maps from the NYPL's collections to match today's precise maps. Visitors can browse already rectified maps.

The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.  Focuses on 18th and 19th century North and South American cartographic materials and includes atlases, globes, school geographies, maritime charts, and a variety of separate maps including pocket, wall, and manuscript maps.

The Interactive Nolli Map Website.  Experience the Nolli map of Rome as an interactive hands-on tool along with catalogued information about the map in graphical and written form.  The map was created by architect Italian Giambattista Nolli and is regarded as one of the important historical documents of the city.



Finding Books



CLIO - Online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library.

CLIO search tips:

  • To find primary sources in CLIO, use the keywords: archives, correspondence, diaries, interviews, narratives, memoir
  • Use the truncation symbol ? to search for variants of a word stem  (example: essay? will search for essay, essays, essayists, etc.)
  • Limit your search to Barnard College Library, if you wish.

Worldcat. Search for items in libraries worldwide.

BorrowDirect. Borrow books directly from the libraries of Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale, in addition to select libraries of Harvard and MIT. Items requested through BorrowDirect typically deliver in 3 to 4 business days, with a 6-week loan period + one 6-week renewal.

Interlibrary Loan. Borrow books, articles/book chapters, music scores, and selected audiovisual items (i.e. maps or films) that are not currently available at Columbia University Libraries. ILL has a larger scope of participating institutions than Borrow Direct.

Finding Dissertations

Digital Dissertations: Full text of American dissertations accepted at an accredited institution published since 1997. These dissertations have extremely detailed bibliographies and can be an excellent starting point for research.

Updated research by BLAIS Intern Kai Alexis Smith, MSILS candidate, May 2013

Last updated September 21, 2015


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