Urban Studies Senior Seminar in International Topics

"Staircases leading to the Independence square, Antananarivo, Madagascar," by Bernard Gagnon, via Wikimedia Commons

This guide highlights key resources for finding primary & archival sources on international topics in urban studies. 

 For a full list of recommended resources for urban studies, including reference tools, article databases, books, maps, data sets, and more, please see the urban studies research guide.

For research resources focused on NYC, please see the New York City field research course guide.

Şevin Yıldız

Personal Librarian 
Jennie Correia
Social Sciences Librarian
103 LeFrak Center, Barnard Hall


Finding Primary Sources  
Finding Archives and Special Collections 
Finding News Sources 
Finding Data and Statistics 
Writing, Citing, and Organizational Tools


Finding Primary Sources

1. On-campus Primary Sources

CLIO is the online catalog of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and some information from the Law Library.

Search the Catalog to find primary sources by adding keywords to your search, or look for them in the Subject - Genre filter. Here are some examples:


Catalog search tips:

If you know exactly what book (journal, video, etc.) you are looking for, you can search by Title, Author, ISBN, etc.

To find items about a specific topic, first try a keyword search in All Fields.

  • Use "quotation marks" to search for an exact phrase: "cultural heritage".
  • Use * for truncation (to find variant spellings and endings of a word): wom*n will find woman, women, womyn; activis* will find activism, activist, activists, etc.
    • For more complex search, use AND and OR:
      • AND finds records which have all the search terms you entered.
      • OR finds records which have one of the search terms you entered, as well as records which have more than one of the terms. OR finds MORE.
      • For more help with using AND and OR, check our guide to advanced/Boolean keyword searching.
  • Use parentheses to group terms:  "Mexico City" AND (parks OR gardens)

Subject headings: If you find a book that's relevant, look at its subject headings in CLIO and click through to find more related works.

Browse Databases in CLIO by resource type (Archival Catalogs, Image Collections, Map & Atlas Collections, Newspaper Collections, etc.).

  • HathiTrust is a digital preservation repository and access platform for many of the United States' great research libraries, bringing together the immense collections of partner institutions. Provides long-term preservation and access services for public domain and in copyright content from a variety of sources.
  • ARTstor is a searchable database of digital images and associated catalog data, with new image collections added several times a year. ARTstor covers many time periods and cultures, and documents the fields of architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, design, anthropology, ethnographic and women's studies, as well as many other forms of visual culture. Users can search, view, download and organize images.

There are many Columbia University Libraries area studies research guides that have information on locating primary & archival sources. Here are guides relevant to course research topics as of September 19, 2107:

2. Off-campus Primary Sources

  • WorldCat searches libraries worldwide. Use the same list of keywords as above to narrow your search.

  • If a title isn't available via Columbia University Libraries, you may request it via Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan

  • The New York Public Library (NYPL) catalog searches the circulating and non-circulating research collections at the NYPL. You can limit your results to the Archives & Manuscripts or Research collections. Use the same list of keywords as above to narrow your search.

  • The Library of Congress provides digitized versions of a large number of its collection materials available, concentrating on its most rare collections and those unavailable anywhere else. You can find digitized photographs, manuscripts, maps, sound recordings, motion pictures, and books, as well as "born digital" materials such as Web sites.

  • Guide to Online Primary Sources, from the UC San Diego Libraries, links to online resources for a large variety of disciplines - check out the world history collections. Some links are for the UC San Diego community only - see if Columbia has access by searching for the resource by title in CLIO.


Finding Archives and Special Collections

For more detailed information on doing archival research, check out Archival Research at Barnard and Beyond and Purdue Online Writing Lab's (OWL) Archival Research

1. On-campus Archives

  • Barnard College Archives documents the history of the College and also seeks to acquire Special Collections materials that relate to broader issues of feminism; women’s, sexuality, and gender studies; the history of the education of women and female-identified individuals in the United States; and the history of dance. Find materials by browsing the collection lists or searching in CLIO (find a list of these records in CLIO by doing a keyword search for "barnard archives" with the quotation marks).

  • Columbia Archival Collections Portal lets you access records of archival collections at Columbia University Libraries, including finding aids, collection descriptions, and available digital content, such as online exhibits and images. Search the repositories of Avery Library, Department of Drawings & Archives, Burke Library Archives, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University Archives, Health Sciences Library Archives & Special Collections, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and Starr East Asian Library Rare Books and Special Collections.

  • Columbia Oral History Portal provides access to the oral history records from the Columbia Center for Oral History (CCOH).
  • Access Policies: 

    • ​Each Columbia University archive and special collection has its own access policies and hours. You will need to make appointments and request specific items to view several days in advance. Plan ahead and bring a pencil (no pens)!

    • In order to use the Columbia University Archives, the Columbia Center for Oral History (CCOH), and the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML), you are required to register for a Special Collections Research Account before their visit and validate it in-person with your Barnard/Columbia ID (or government issued photo identification).

2. Off-campus Archives

  • ArchiveGrid includes over four million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more from over 1,000 different archival institutions. Search all collections by keyword, or find archives by location (scroll down the list on the home page and locate archives by country).

  • National Archives & National Libraries can be great places to look for material for your project. If not listed in ArchiveGrid, try searching in Google for the country name with "national archives" or "national library". You can do an advanced Google search, limiting your results to the domain of the country you are researching.
  • For other types of archives, try searching for organization names, people, topics, etc. and add "archives" or "digital collections". 


Finding News Sources

You also can search multiple news sources at once using newspaper databases, including the following that are relevant to course research topics as of September 19, 2107::

  • AllAfrica.com posts over 700 stories daily in English and French and offers a diversity of multi-lingual streaming programming as well as a 400,000-article searchable archive (which includes the archive of Africa News Service dating from 1997). Fully accessible ONLY on campus.

  • Alt-Press Watch provides full text articles from over 210 alternative and press publications, including newspapers, magazines and journals. Note the "Translate" feature.
  • Ethnic newsWatch provides full text articles from newspapers and periodicals published by the ethnic, minority and native press in the U.S. back to 1960. Note the "Translate" feature.
  • Factiva contains thousands of national and foreign newspapers sources. Note the "Translate article" feature. It can be a little tricky to use - check out the Factiva Learning YouTube Tutorials, especially Factiva Search Builder and Viewing Your Factiva Results.
  • Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports provides full text translations of newspaper articles, radio and television broadcasts, non-classified technical reports, conference proceedings, and local media sources from around the world. This database covers 1941-1996; coverage from 1996-2013 is available in World News Connection, described below.
  • Google Translate is handy but imperfect.
  • LexisNexis Academic contains access to hundreds of information sources including the full text of newspapers, magazines, wire services, newsletters, journals, and broadcast transcripts from around the world. Note the Google Translate feature. To easily locate materials in lanuages other than English, click on "Search by Subject or Topic" and then "Foreign Language News".
  • ProQuest Newspapers has articles from U.S. national newspapers, international English-language newspapers, and selected regional/state newspapers. Chronological coverage of individual newspapers varies. Note the "Translate" feature.
  • World News Connection is the continuation of FBIS Daily Reports, above. It provides full text translations of newspaper articles, radio and television broadcasts, non-classified technical reports, conference proceedings, and local media sources from around the world. This database covers 1996-2013; coverage from 1941 to 1996 is available in Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, described above.


Finding Data & Statistics

For help finding and analyzing data, check out the Empirical Reasoning Center (ERC). The ERC's calendar lists when staff is available to answer your questions. No appointment necessary!

  • Atlas of Urban Expansion is an open-source online resource with maps, satellite images, and data on spatial changes in cities around the world, has been revised and updated. The database was developed by a partnership of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, UN-Habitat, and New York University.
  • Passport from Euromonitor International is a market research tool that monitors industry and product trends in countries around the world. They also have selected city reports. You can search for these by the name of the city or browse available reports - click on "Economies" in the top navigation bar and then "Cities".
  • Social Explorer helps you visually analyze and understand a variety of data sets, including U.S. demographic, crime, health, election, and religion data, as well as international data such as World Bank World Development Indicators.
  • UNData from the United Nations Statistics Division has some data tables for cities.
  • World Council on City Data Open Data Portal is based on the first international standard on city data — ISO 37120. The WCCD Open City Data Portal allows you to explore, monitor, and compare member cities on up to 100 service performance and quality of life indicators.

Need even more international data sources? Check out Social Science Data & Statistics Sources


Writing and Citing

  • Barnard guides to citation management provides information about citation practices, style guides, and software programs (like Zotero) you can use that help you keep track of your sources and create bibliographies.

  • Chicago Manual of Style has full details on citing primary & archival material in Chicago style. You can find full-text of the style guide in print or online.
  • Cite Source presents visual information about how to cite various sources in a visual way, and they offer guidance on citing tricky sources. Check out the source help for Chicago styles​
  • The Craft of Research is an online book that can help guide you through the full research process.
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has lots of general and subject specific writing tips and techniques, along with research advice and detailed citation and formatting standards for the Chicago style.
  • Try using a research log to keep track of what you've searched and what you want to try next.  You can copy this to your Google Drive and adjust it to suit your needs. 
  • Zotero allows you to manually add special items like letters, interviews, etc. to your Zotero library.

Last updated January 19, 2018