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EN 104 - 'Til Death Do Us Part: Matrimony from the Bible to the Beatniks and Beyond


This is a guide to selected sources of information related to marriage. It is meant as a starting point for your research. For further research assistance, please stop by the Reference Desk in person or pose your question online at Ask a Librarian.


Research Basics

The Geisel Library website includes a Research Help page, which contains numerous guides to using library resources and finding information. Included is a Research Strategy guide that walks you through the seven steps of doing successful college-level research, as well as a number of helpful video tutorials. Please take advantage of these resources.


Background Information

Before looking for books and journal articles on your topic, it is helpful to explore reference resources such as subject-specific encyclopedias. These resources can provide background information on authors and literary works, as well as the social issues, historical periods, and themes being addressed in this course. They can also help you determine keywords to search in the library catalog and journal databases. Use the bibliographies at the end of articles in reference resources to identify books and journal articles worth tracking down.

Starting Points

International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family
This encyclopedia offers a cross-cultural perspective on a wide range of marriage-related topics, including family planning, cohabitation, conflict, and gender roles.

Encyclopedia of Human Relationships
This reference work summarizes the latest research on areas such as communication processes, dating and courtship, family dynamics, personality, and sexuality.

Credo Reference
Search "marriage" to find articles from a variety of subject encyclopedias, offering historical, anthropological, psychological, and feminist perspectives on marriage.

Oxford Reference Online
Find entries on marriage from online encyclopedias of religion, economic history, the Middle Ages, and ancient civilization. This database also includes literature encyclopedias that provide background information on authors and their works.

Literature Resources

Literature Resource Center
This database includes lengthy biographical profiles of authors, plot summaries, and literary criticism for thousands of novelists, poets, and other writers.    User Guide

American History Through Literature: 1820-1870
American History Through Literature: 1870-1920
     Both encyclopedias include essays on the depiction of marriage in literature.

American Writers (13 vols.)
     Ref PS129 .A55

British Writers (13 vols.)
     Ref PR85 .B688

Critical Survey of Long Fiction (8 vols.)
     Ref PN3451 .C75

Critical Survey of Poetry (8 vols.)
     Ref PR502 .C85

Literary Criticism Series
     Contemporary Literary Criticism (Ref PN94 .C65)
     Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism (Ref PN761 .N56)
     Twentieth Century Literary Criticism (Ref PN94 .T83)
To find out the volumes in which your author or literary work are covered, use the Gale Literary Index.

Perspectives on Marriage

Dictionary of American History
     Ref E174 .D52 (print version, 10 vols.)

Encyclopedia of American Social History (3 vols.)
     Ref HN57 .E58

Encyclopedia of Christianity (5 vols.)
     Ref BR95 .E8913

Encyclopedia of European Social History (6 vols.)
     Ref HN373 .E63

Encyclopedia of Gender and Society
     Available in Gale Virtual Reference Library

Encyclopedia of Human Development
     Available in Gale Virtual Reference Library

Encyclopedia of Psychology
     Ref BF31 .E52

Encyclopedia of Religion
     Available in Gale Virtual Reference Library

Encyclopedia of Social Problems
     Available in Gale Virtual Reference Library

Encyclopedia of Sociology
     Ref HM425 .E5 (print version, 5 vols.)

Marriage Customs of the World
     Ref GT2690 .M65

New Dictionary of the History of Ideas
     Ref CB9 .N49 (print version, 6 vols.)


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Geisel Library Catalog
There are two approaches to finding books in the Geisel Library catalog:

1)  Keyword Searching
If you have a specific topic in mind, try a Keyword search on terms that represent your topic of interest. Use the Boolean AND to combine together multiple concepts, and use the Boolean OR to expand your search with synonyms and related terms. Use the * (asterisk) to retrieve variant forms of a word; for example, marr* will find books with the words "married" or "marriage" in the catalog record.

Here are some examples of keyword searches related to this course's theme:

  • Christian AND marriage AND (doctrin* OR sacrament*)
  • Arranged marriage OR matchmak*
  • Marr* AND (ritual* OR ceremon*)
  • (Same-sex OR gay) AND marr*
  • Marriage AND (Middle Ages OR medieval)

2)  Subject Searching
If you have a general area of interest but haven't chosen a specific topic, try searching some of the phrases below as Subject Headings in the catalog. Subject headings are assigned to books to describe their primary subject matter and themes. Subject searching is effective for finding books about broad concepts like "African Americans in literature" or "race relations in the United States". Skimming through these books may give you ideas about how to focus your research. If you are researching a particular author or work, try searching the author's name as a Subject to locate biographies and literary criticism.

  • Courtship in literature
  • Divorce - United States
  • Interracial marriage
  • Man-woman relationships
  • Married people - Psychology
  • Marriage - Biblical teaching
  • Marriage customs and rites
  • Marriage - History
  • Marriage in literature
  • Marriage law
  • Marriage - Psychological aspects
  • Marriage - Religious aspects - Christianity
  • Marriage - United States
  • Mate selection
  • Same-sex marriage

Here are some books found through keyword and subject searching:

I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage
     HQ503 .S687

Love and Marriage in the Middle Ages
     HQ623 .D83613

Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy
     HQ503 .C66

Mate Selection Across Cultures
     HQ801 .M236

Sex, Marriage, and Family in World Religions
     BL65.S4 S48

The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony
     HQ536 .P378

Women and Marriage in Victorian Fiction
     PR878 .W6 C3

By searching WorldCat, you can identify potentially useful books owned by other college libraries and have them delivered to Geisel Library for your use. Try searching the same keywords and subject headings that proved successful in the Geisel Library catalog. To request a book, open the book's WorldCat record, click the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link, and follow the on-screen instructions. Allow 7-10 days for delivery. You will be emailed when your book arrives.


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Journal Articles


CrossSearch enables you to search across multiple databases at once to find journal articles. For papers with a literary focus, search the English subject category; for other topics, you may wish to search in History, Sociology, and/or Theology. The search results will include articles from a variety of databases in the chosen subject areas, sorted from newest to oldest. If an article looks useful, click on the WebBridge icon to see if it is available in full-text or in Geisel Library's periodicals collection.

Starting your article search in CrossSearch can help you gauge how many articles are available about your topic. In the results screen, check the Results by Source section to see which databases have the most results. You can then run new searches in those databases, where you can take advantage of limiters and subject terms to zero in on the best articles for your topic. For tips on using CrossSearch, please watch our video tutorial (3.5 mins.; includes audio).

Individual Databases

Below are several databases that may yield useful journal articles for your research. Try searching the same keywords that you used in the library catalog, combining concepts together using the Boolean AND and OR operators. Once you find relevant articles, examine their Subject Headings and conduct Subject searches on the ones that seem potentially fruitful.

If you find a useful article for which no full-text link is available, click on the WebBridge icon to determine whether the journal is available in Geisel Library or in full-text via another database. If the article isn't available, consider clicking on the Interlibrary Loan link to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Within a week, you should receive an email indicating that the article is available to access. To learn how to use WebBridge, please watch our video tutorial (3.5 mins.; includes audio).

Starting Points

Academic Search Premier
This multi-disciplinary database is an excellent starting point for finding scholarly journal articles and popular magazine articles on a wide range of topics.

ATLA Religion Database
Start here to find spiritual perspectives on marriage, particularly in the Judeo-Christian tradition. ATLA provides citations and abstracts for journal articles, books, and book chapters.

MLA International Bibliography
Start here for papers with a literary focus. This database provides citations for articles related to literature, language, and literary criticism.

An excellent starting point for social and cultural perspectives on marriage. This sociology database provides full-text journal articles and citations to books and conference papers.

Other Databases

America: History and Life
The best place to start to learn about the marriage in US history. Use the Historical Period limiter (below the full text limiter checkboxes) to specify your time period of interest.

Historical Abstracts
Use this database to research the history of marriage outside the US. Use the Historical Period limiter (below the full text limiter checkboxes) to specify your time period of interest.

Search here for full-text articles from major scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences. User Guide

Literature Resource Center
Limit the content type to "Literature Criticism" to find full-text articles about works of literature from more than 100 literary journals.    User Guide

Project MUSE
This database offers full-text articles from over 100 peer-reviewed journals, plus citations and abstracts to about 300 other journals.

Use this database to find scholarly research on psychological aspects of marriage and relationships, in journal articles, books, and book chapters.

Journal Finder

Use the Journal Finder to determine whether a particular article is available in Geisel Library's online databases or periodicals collection. This tool is helpful when you encounter citations to useful journal articles outside the journal databases; for example, in the bibliographies of reference books or other journal articles. Search the journal title (not the article title) in Journal Finder and use the resulting links to locate the article's full text in either a database or the library collection. If Journal Finder does not provide any links, you can request the journal article through Interlibrary Loan. To learn more about how to use the Journal Finder, please watch our video tutorial (3 mins.; includes audio).


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Selected Websites

These websites were handpicked for their relevance to your course topic. You may also want to conduct keyword searching on your topics in a search engine such as Google, but be sure to look for indications that the websites you find are authoritative, objective and reliable. For help with this, see our guide to Evaluating Websites.

National Center for Family and Marriage Research (Bowling Green State Univ.)
Established by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, this institute produces research on marriage and family structure. Click on Data Resources to find data, reports, and working papers, plus a "Family and Marriage Literature" page that contains bibliographies of recent books and articles on specific topics, such as the factors that promote a healthy marriage.

National Healthy Marriage Resource Center
A clearinghouse of resources on healthy marriage. Click on Facts and Statistics to see research reports and statistics, or do a keyword search of their online library.

National Marriage Project (Univ. of Virginia)
This research institute produces reports and statistics about the state of marriage in the United States. Click on Publications / Annual Reports to view their annual "State of our Unions" reports.


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Citing Sources

For assistance with formatting your citations in MLA style, consult your copy of Doing Honest Work in College or ask for the MLA Handbook (Ready Ref LB2369 .G53) at the library's reference desk. You can also find links to online citation guides on the library's Citing Sources webpage.


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