IU-B African Studies Library: a Bountiful Research Collection


Are you someone who is interested in scholarly reference materials on Africa south of the Sahara? If so, look no further than your IU Bloomington Library! The 6th floor of the Wells Library has a vast collection of documents covering a great deal of historical information. Keep reading to get more information on our collection and how to use it.

What exactly is the collection about?
The African Studies Library Collection is a multi-reference research area that contains information about Sub-Saharan Africa, supporting research inquiries for undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. students alike. The collection has documented information dating back as early as c1500, including aspects of indigenous tongues, spirituality, culture, government, and more.

What does Sub-Sahara mean?
The Sahara is a geographical reference point spanning from far West Africa towards Egypt and then south towards the country of South Africa. The African Studies collection consists of multiple documents written in indigenous languages such as Zulu, Igbo, Xhosa, Ibibio, Afrikaans, Bambara, Fula, Kpelle, Sango, Somali, Swahili, Wolof, Twi (Akan), Yoruba, and many others. In addition, these documents can be extremely useful as primary resources!

Who should use the African Studies collection?
Anyone interested in learning more scholarship about Africa and all that it consists of will benefit greatly from this collection, which contains everything from manuscripts, academic journals, annual conference reports, newspapers, and language and linguistics manuals. You don’t have to stop there, though! Expand your realm of knowledge by exploring the IU Art Museum which has primary resources of African art and archaeological pieces of African tribes and culture south of the Sahara. Using the African Studies Library Collection interchangeably with other resources on the IU Bloomington campus can help you if you are not solely dependent upon the African Studies collection for scholarly reference materials.

african studies lib

If you’re looking to broaden your African Studies horizon even further, feel free to visit the library’s African Studies resources page. Browsing through these resouces can be helpful in obtaining information that the Wells Library may not have. For instance, Michigan State University currently carries one of the most comprehensive collections on the Amharic language of Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Since IU and MSU are part of the Big Ten conference library system, resources can also be researched through Worldcat. To request items that another library holds, you can submit an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) request.

Happy researching! As always, don’t hesitate to consult with a reference librarian in the Wells Library east tower for further research help!


Judging a Book by Its Title: A Guide to Folklore

For anyone interested in working with children – whether as a teacher, librarian, counselor, or even as a parent – it’s important to know you can’t always judge a book by its title. After all, that copy of The Little Mermaid you just selected off the shelf may contain some details you would consider inappropriate – I’m looking at you, Hans Christian Andersen – and a story titled “The Mermaid Wife” is probably not the same folktale, even though its title is very similar.

So how do you know, at a glance, which tale is the one you remember from your childhood and which is a classic case of Stockholm syndrome? That’s where our Folklore Collection, located on the 7th floor of the East Tower, comes in handy. Anyone familiar with the collection is probably aware of just how extensive it is, in terms of anthologies and secondary source material. But did you know the collection houses its own reference section? On your right as you enter the Folklore collection, these shelves house materials detailing classic folklore motifs, themes, plot structures, etc., to aid in a better understanding of folktales and how they relate to one another. For someone studying folklore, this is a treasure-trove of useful information; however, these books can be just as helpful to someone who simply wants to find the version of The Little Mermaid they like best.

Below, you’ll find a small sampling of these books. If you’re interested in learning more on the topic of folklore, check out the collection in person or contact our subject specialist, Moira Marsh.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales & Fairy Tales
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales & Fairy Tales

Motif-Index of Folk Literature by Stith Thompson
Stith Thompson

The Storyteller’s Sourcebook by Margaret Read MacDonald
The Storyteller's Sourcebook

Happy researching and reading!

-Kaitlin Bonifant

The History Behind Occupy Wall Street: Resources

Occupy Bloomington in Peoples ParkOccupy Wall Street (OWS) and its satellite movements have been making the news for months, and they continue to be an influence even as the cold weather drives protesters inside. Bloomington has its own Occupy movement, quartered in Peoples Park on the corner of Kirkwood and Dunn. These protests may feel like a revolutionary breakout of feeling and action, but in fact they have their roots in similar movements in our country’s history. Check out the resources below to find out more about similar non-violent protests, the history of protest movements in general, the goals that were fought for, and more. Knowing where the protests came from can help clarify how effective they might be, what impact on society they might have, and what motivated them in the first place.

From the Reference collection (1st floor of the East Tower in Wells):

Encyclopedia of American social movements
This four volume set is arranged by topic and is interspersed with photographs, speeches, mini-biographies of relevant figures, and other interesting tidbits. Check out the extensive section on the Civil Rights movement in volume one to read about sit-ins and other occupations with tactics similar to OWS.
HN57 .E594 2004

The international encyclopedia of revolution and protest : 1500 to the present
For a more global perspective (after all, the OWS movement spawned protests across the world), this encyclopedia’s concise entries are a great introduction. It “examines how different revolutions, uprisings, and protest movements have influenced one another,” with illuminating results.
JC491 .I58 2009 v.1

Protest, power, and change : an encyclopedia of nonviolent action from ACT-UP to women’s suffrage

From the abolitionist movement to the fight for women’s suffrage, this encyclopedia offers an accessible entry into a host of famous and lesser-known non-violent protests. These movements are the direct antecedents for the methods of OWS, and it’s fascinating to see how they turned out.
HM278 .P76 1997

Rebels and renegades : a chronology of social and political dissent in the United States
Tracking protest movements all the way back to the colonial period, this volume makes it obvious how the ideology and methodology of American protests build upon the past. An appendix of primary documents showcases the rhetoric and literature of these movements.
HN90.R3 H354 2002

For more in-depth looks at the topic, try searching IUCAT for relevant movements (‘Civil rights,’ or ‘women’s suffrage’) or for combinations of keywords like ‘social movement’, ‘protest’, ‘civil disobedience,’ or ‘sit-in’. These books are scattered throughout the collection depending on what particular movement they deal with, but the call number area HM 881 has a good concentration of books about social change.

Finally, check out the IU Archives’ series of blog posts related to an exhibit about protests right here at IU, and go see the material itself if you get inspired.


What’s What in Biographical Resources

When researching a particular topic, event, or person, biographical tools may come in handy for discovering all sorts of useful information about persons of interest. Here are some of the biographical resources the IUB Libraries have to offer, starting with some more general resources:

Biography and Genealogy Master Index indexes several thousand volumes and editions of biographical reference sources, including popular dictionaries, who’s whos, and subject encyclopedias. Boasting over 13.6 million entries, it’s an incredibly comprehensive index that makes for a good first stop for researchers and serves as a good introduction to biographical reference sources.

Gale’s Biography in Context offers biographical data pulled from reference sources, covering over 525,000 individuals. Besides the embedded biographical entries, this database also offers full-text access to related entries from academic journals, primary sources, news sources, magazines, and other reference sources. Biography in Context also integrates multimedia objects into its biographical entries, which are useful for research and presentations. There’s a lot going on here, but it’s another great starting point for researchers.

The IUB Libraries also offers its users electronic access to the contents of Current Biography Illustrated, which has been publishing biographies on notable and current cultural figures since 1940. Users can access over 15,000 biographical entries on “celebrities, politicians, business people, writers, actors, sports figures, artists, scientists, and many others.” This resource also offers access to over 19,500 images.

In addition to general biographical resources, there are a number of more specialized biographical resources that are useful for finding information on persons working within a specified field of study. Here are just a few:

The Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, printed in 27 volumes or available electronically, offers biographical entries on scientists, mathematicians, and inventors throughout history. Its coverage spans from “classical antiquity to modern times.”

The Dictionary of Literary Biography is much more than its name would indicate. In addition to biographical entries, this database offers coverage of literary topics, periods, and genres. The biographical entries themselves offer information on the author’s published works, a biographical overview, information on interviews, bibliographies, and references.

Something About the Author is a database that pulls information from two series: Something About the Author and Something About the Author: Autobiography Series. It offers biographical entries on the authors and illustrators of children’s literature, with an emphasis on their professional careers, awards, and works.

Who’s Who is a popular title for biographical texts, though researchers should be careful as books with this title aren’t necessarily related to each other or have the same publisher. Those published by Marquis serve as good reference volumes, such as Who’s Who in America , Who’s Who in Finance and Business, and Who’s Who in Science and Engineering.

These are just some of the many resources that can be used to uncover rich biographical contexts for notable public figures. For help finding other biographical resources, be sure to ask a librarian!


Bursting at the Seams with Costume Resources

[Chicago Daily News ice carnival with woman wearing a patriotic costume and a man wearing a Middle Eastern costume]. Chicago Daily News, January 19, 1929. From American Memory, Library of Congress.
[Chicago Daily News ice carnival with woman wearing a patriotic costume and a man wearing a Middle Eastern costume]. Chicago Daily News, January 19, 1929. From American Memory, Library of Congress.

Have you ever looked at an illustration of the book The Great Gatsby, and wondered how to describe what the characters are wearing? Have you ever thought to look up how members of the Azande culture dress versus the Burundi culture? Or how one might costume a production of the eighteenth-century play She Stoops to Conquer? Or even brainstorming what to wear this coming Halloween?

Costume research is relevant to a variety of disciplines: from theater and drama, to fashion design, history, anthropology, folklore, English, and art history. Next time you are considering a research topic in the aforementioned areas, perhaps a topic in costume could fit the bill?

If so, IU libraries has you covered – we have all kinds of print and electronic resources designed to help you answer these kinds of questions and more.

Electronic resources


Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion

This is a magisterial resource, literally encyclopedic in its coverage. Remember, this database is available only on campus, so make a note to visit next time you’re on campus–otherwise you can find more information on downloading a VPN for your computer or device here.

eHRAF World Cultures (also known as eHRAF Collection of Ethnography)

A database devoted to world cultures produced by the research agency Human Relations Area Files. It has a great browsing function for ethnic groups. This database is a little complicated to search – make sure to capitalize on the help pages in order to use it most effectively.


A great resource for images across a variety of disciplines. Use the Advanced Search option to search or browse within the Fashion, Costume and Jewelry classification.


A consortium of art museums that brings together images of some of the finest works of art. For our purposes today, right on the main page is a link that will enable you to search within Costume and Jewelry.


American Memory

The Smithsonian Institution has compiled a huge and endlessly fascinating digital library from their permanent collections. Don’t stop at costume – look at photography, early film, folkways, and all kinds of amazing content!

American Periodicals Online

This resource is incredibly useful for all kinds of primary source research, as it compiles over a thousand serials, fulltext, with dates ranging from 1740 to 1900.

Great Britain

British Periodicals

Another great primary source database, this time for the British Isles. While you’re at it, check out Eighteenth Century Journals, C-19, and Nineteenth Century UK Periodicals!

VADS or Visual Arts Data Service

This is a great resource for all manner of visual arts. Major museums and archives throughout Great Britain have contributed their collections to this online archive, making it a rich and worthwhile use of your valuable research time.

London Low Life

This is a great resource, not only because it offers all kinds of primary source materials, but also because it is partially compiled from items held in the Lilly Library! Part of the digitization agreement stipulated that IU users could access this database free of charge – so go ahead, what are you waiting for?


IUCAT is where to go for books at IU. Remember that this searches all libraries in the Indiana University system (Bloomington, yes, but also Fort Wayne, Columbus, and South Bend, among others), so make careful note of where books are located.

One great way to find reference sources in print is to use the Reference Room Quicksearch – you can search for reference materials held only in the Reference Reading Room of Herman B Wells Library. A list of records with the subject term “costume” can be found here. Spending a few hours with these books will kickstart your research efficiently and effectively. Plus, you’ll always know they’ll be in the stacks, because reference room materials don’t circulate (unless you ask the staff at the Reference Desk nicely).

Here is a list of records held at Fine Arts Library with all books under the subject heading “costume.” Using Advanced Keyword Search, you can type in “costume” as your subject heading, while using other search terms to narrow your search – like “United States,” or “19th Century,” or what whatever you happen to be interested in. Use the keyword search if you are not sure how to phrase your search term.

And one final reminder about books – your field of knowledge is certainly not limited to local holdings. Simply use Worldcat to find many more sources about your topic. Each record has a link to request items using our Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan Services, enabling you to request books from many different libraries.

A hot tips for your searching serendipity: remember to think of relevant synonyms for your search strategies. Many catalogs use the subject term “costume,” but others could use “dress,” “garb,” “clothes” or “clothing,” especially if you have delved into unmediated internet searching. If one search doesn’t work, try another related term to see if anything relevant returns.

Never forget – librarians are here to help! Ask now!!


March Madness?

What would you say if someone asked you, “Who do you think is going to win March Madness?” Would you stare blankly at the person, or would you immediately answer, “I’ve got Butler winning it all!” Like so many other sporting events, the NCAA Basketball Tournament draws big audiences every year. This year is no different with many dramatic wins by underdog teams. Whether you love the game or love to hate it, there is no denying the influence of sports on cultures around the world.

If you want to learn more about sports history in America and throughout the world, here are several resources you may find helpful!

Reference Sources

GV567 .H518 2002 – Wells Reference Reading Room

GV885.7 .D68 1995 – Wells Reference Reading Room

GV721 .B45 2003 – Wells Reference Reading Room

Copies on order: COMING SOON!

Electronic Databases

  • Leisure Tourism: The Leisure Tourism database is an index to the literature of more than 400 international publications in the area of travel, leisure, and hospitality. It includes references to books, journals, conference proceedings, bulletins, reports, and news items. Coverage begins in 1976 and continues to the present.
  • eHRAF World Cultures: This is a cross-cultural database that contains information on all aspects of cultural and social life. Use it to find information on a particular culture or cultural trait, or for making cross-cultural comparisons. This database includes thousands of pages of text from books, articles, and unpublished manuscripts as well as English translations of foreign texts available exclusively in HRAF.
  • Kinesiology Abstracts: This includes an index and full texts of dissertations and master’s theses in health, physical education, recreation, exercise and sports sciences, sport history, and related issues.
  • SPORTDiscus with Full Text: This database covers everything from sports, physical fitness, sports medicine, sports science, physical education, coaching, training, sport administration, sport law and legislation, and disabled athletes, just to name a few!


PS374.S76 N65 2010 – Wells Research Collection

PS3511.I9 Z6855 2007 – Wells Research Collection

PR428.S75 S46 2003 – Wells Research Collection

Last, but certainly not least, check out the library resources webpage or contact the reference desk via phone, instant message, or in person for more information!



Latin America | In the Headlines, behind the Headlines

 Latin America has certainly been in the headlines lately, from the dramatic rescue of Chile’s 33 miners to the Nobel Prize for Literature, awarded to Peru’s Mario Vargas Llosa. The region’s surging economies have also been in the spotlight: the cover story of the September 11th-17th issue of The Economist, for example, titled “Nobody’s backyard,” discusses Latin America’s recent economic boom.

If you’re looking to keep up with news from Latin America—and improve your language skills while you’re at it—be sure to check out the international newspapers available through LexisNexis Academic.

If you already know of a newspaper you’d like to read, you can type its name into the “Source Title” box from the “Easy Search” screen. If LexisNexis finds a match, it will appear automatically. For example, if you wanted to follow coverage of the miners in El Mercurio, Chile’s newspaper of record, you could simply type “mineros” into the search box and use “mercurio” as your “Source Title.”

 If you don’t have a particular newspaper in mind, LexisNexis lets you limit your news search to sources in Spanish or Portuguese, including major European papers such as El País. Just remember, if you want to search for stories about the miners in Portuguese, be sure to type “mineiros chilenos” instead of “mineros chilenos”!

For in-depth research about Latin America, however, you will ultimately want to go behind the headlines. Here are two resources to help you do just that.

The Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS), a project of the Library of Congress, has been called “the oldest and most prestigious area studies bibliography in the world.” Although the online version of HLAS provides information that is somewhat more up to date, its user interface is a bit of a nightmare. The print version of HLAS, available in the Wells Reference Collection (call number Z1601 .H2), provides a much better overview of recent scholarship. Every year, an international team of scholars carefully selects over 5,000 books, journal articles, and electronic resources for inclusion in the Handbook, which is organized by academic discipline. Each section begins with a contextual essay discussing recent trends in the field, followed by an annotated bibliography of noteworthy publications. Although HLAS is published annually, its volumes alternate each year between the humanities and social sciences.

 Researching Brazil/Pesquisa no Brasil is an exciting in-house resource developed by IU’s own Latin American studies librarian, Luis González. For those looking to find their bearings in the field of Brazilian studies, especially Brazilian history, this is an essential tool. The Researching Brazil bibliographic database includes over 80 academic journals published in Brazil, many of which are not indexed elsewhere. The site also features a Google Custom Search box that zeroes in on the latest scholarship from Brazil (which has become a world leader in open-access journal publishing).

¡Hasta la próxima! / Até a próxima! And happy researching!


Celebrate Black History Month: Check Out These Materials!

February is Black History Month: the time we commemorate important events and members of the African Diaspora and the significant effects that they have had on our society. The library has tons of resources on black history, whether you are interested in trivia, general information, or more substantial research.

Our print materials include:

 Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events, 2nd edition (2003) by Jessie Carney Smith: This record of black achievement highlights black firsts in chronological order in specialized sections designated by field or profession (Arts & Entertainment, Business, Journalism, Educations, Writers, Sports, Government, and more).

(This item is available in the Reference Reading Room; LC Call Number: E 185 .B574 2003)

 Encyclopedia of African American History 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass (2006), Paul Finkelman, Editor in Chief: In three volumes, the reader is provided with windows into the internal history of black peoples and communities from the arrival of the first slave ship and the external relationship with whites that informs the larger American history until the death of Frederick Douglass.
(This item is available in the Reference Reading Room; LC Call Number: E 185 .E545 2006)

 Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History: The Black Experience in the Americas, 2nd edition (2006), edited by Colin A. Palmer: With articles on topics ranging from the West Indies Federation to Venus and Serena Williams, this six volume set takes a look at the progression of black history and culture and recent figures and events in North America and abroad.
(This item is available in the Undergraduate Services Reference Collection and the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Library; LC Call Number: E 185 .E54 2006)

We also offer access to online resources:

America: History & Life covers the history of the United States and Canada from pre-history to the present.

Black Culture and Thought makes available a collection of non-fiction published works of African American leaders, including interviews, journal articles, speeches, essays, pamphlets, letters, etc.

Black Short Fiction and Folklore covers offer more than 8,000 short stories and folktales, ranging thematically from oral traditions that date back many hundreds of years to contemporary tales of modern life by writers from the African Diaspora.

These resources provide a range of information on this growing field of research and inquiry. Dig in!

“By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Quotations are able to illustrate in a few words what is difficult to explain in many. Using appropriate quotations can strengthen and enliven any speech, paper or article – and finding the perfect quote is easy using the many resources available in the library and online.

Here are a few great quotation books available in the Reference Department.

The Last Word: A Treasury of Women’s Quotes, by Carolyn Warner

(REF PN 6084. W6 W37 1992)

“Happiness is good health and a bad memory.” Ingrid Bergman


Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations

(REF PN 6084. H8 O94 2008)

“I’m not so think as you drunk I am.” J. C. Squire


Random House Webster’s Quotationary

(REF PN 6081. R29 1999)

“A full belly makes a dull brain.” Benjamin Franklin


To search for quotes online, I recommend Bartleby, WikiQuote and Quoteland.




The Puritans, the Beatles, and Dr. Spock …

…are all entries in:

American Countercultures: An encyclopedia of nonconformists, alternative lifestyles, and radical ideas in U.S. history, ed. By Gina Misiroglu. M.E.  Sharpe, 2009

HM647 .A44 2009


This three volume reference set does not confine itself to the counterculture movements of the 1960s like some. The 500+ entries span topics on religious, political, and social movements, people, and events from the 17th Century to today.  Many entries are cross-referenced and contain images from their respective era, and suggestions for further reading.


The information is scholarly but accessible and the entries are fairly extensive.  For example, the entry for Gangs and Gang Culture gives a definition of the term, an overview of the history and imagery of gangs from the Industrial Revolution to the 1950s, and culminates with substantial information on gang culture today.


The entries are organized alphabetically and there is “Topic Finder” at the beginning of each volume that organizes the information into broad categories for easy browsing, e.g., “Drugs and Drug Culture”, “Pastime, Fads, Recreation”, and “Sociopolitical Movements”.

A complete index to the set appears in the back of each volume and the third volume contains a bibliography and filmography, as well as a primary documents section.  The “Documents” section is a collection of writings, speeches, and songs including the National Organization for Women, Statement of Purpose (1966), Emma Goldman’s essay on Anarchism (1917), and the trial of Anne Hutchinson (1637).

The volumes are well written, well constructed, beautifully printed in black and white, and are fun to browse.