This guide supports the class project to research a place, object, or building that was historically significant in early Africa. Begin by reading topical entries in reference sources, in order to obtain basic background information and identify potential keywords to use in your searching. Next, search WorldCat for books and other materials (including videos) about your topic. Finally, search the history and full-text journal databases for scholarly articles that are relevant to your topic. For further research assistance, please contact the History liaison librarian.
Before delving into books and journal articles, you may wish to consult reference sources in order to learn the basic facts about the place, object, or building that you are examining. Reference materials can provide background information on your topic and help you identify keywords for further searching (such as the country or tribal group to whom the place or object was important). Some reference resources include bibliographies at the ends of each entry or volume, which will point you to additional books and journal articles worth exploring.
Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
Find overviews on a wide variety of topics by searching this online encyclopedia.
Encyclopedia of African History
Ref DT20 .E53 (print version)
Encyclopedia of Sacred Places
Ref BC580 .B76
New Encyclopedia of Africa
In Gale Virtual Reference Center
Oxford Art Online
This database provides access to the full contents of The Grove Dictionary of Art, which has extensive coverage of African art and architecture.
Oxford Companion to Archaeology
In Oxford Reference Online
To find relevant books, try both Keyword and Subject searching in WorldCat, an online catalog encompassing the holdings of thousands of libraries worldwide. Start by doing a Keyword search on the place, object, or building that you are researching, or on any related keywords that you discovered in Reference sources. When you find a useful book, click on its subject headings to identify other works that may cover your topic. Be sure to try alternate spellings; for example, Djenne/Jenne, Aksum/Axum, and Asante/Ashanti.
Because these research topics are fairly specific, you may not find many books or book chapters about them. Instead, you will need to identify the broad category of books that may cover your topic, and run an appropriate search. For example, search on the country or region in which your place or object now resides, along with words like art or history. Examples may include:
- Africa* AND "slave trade"
- (Art OR sculpture) AND Benin
- Ethiopia AND Christian* AND architect*
- Ghana AND history
If a book is available in Geisel Library, you will see a Saint Anselm College logo below its title, and you can look up its call number in the library's online catalog. If you find books not at Geisel Library that seem relevant to your topic, you can request them through Interlibrary Loan by clicking on the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link in their WorldCat records. Books requested through WorldCat are usually delivered to the library for your use in 1-2 weeks.
The instructor has encouraged you to incorporate multimedia resources such as music and videos into your final presentation. Use the resources below to locate relevant videos on your topics.
Use the same keyword and subject searches that proved successful when looking for books, but limit the type to "Visual Materials". This will find photographs but also DVDs and videotapes. As with books, you can obtain videos through Interlibrary Loan by clicking on the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link in the video's catalog record. Allow 1-2 weeks for delivery. Be aware that videos often have shorter check-out periods than books. This means that if you plan to show a video during your presentation, don't request it too early in the semester, or it might be overdue by the time you need it.
You can find a variety of streaming videos about African historical sites and objects on YouTube, ranging from professional documentaries to amateur vacation videos.
As with the book catalogs, search the journal databases using keywords related to your topic, combining concepts together using the Boolean AND and OR operators. Once you find relevant articles, examine the subject headings that have been assigned to them and conduct Subject searches on the ones that seem most potentially fruitful. Be sure to read the bibliographies of articles to identify additional sources worth tracking down.
If there is no link to the full text of the article, click on the WebBridge icon to determine whether the journal is available in Geisel Library or in full-text via another electronic 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.
The best place to start for journal articles about world history. Use the Historical Period From/To limiter (down below the full text limiter checkboxes) to specify your time period of interest.
Search here for full-text articles from a number of important journals in the areas of African history and art. For tips on how to use JSTOR effectively, see our User Guide.
Academic Search Premier
This multi-disciplinary database is an excellent starting point for finding journal articles on a wide range of topics, including history. For example, lengthy articles are available in National Geographic on several topics for this assignment; get the citation information from this database, and you can locate the article in the Periodicals Area on the Lower Level.
Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHSearch)
This index provides citations and abstracts to more than 1,300 of the most significant journals in the arts and humanities.
You may wish to find images of African art, artifacts, or structures to add a visual element to your presentation. The resources below will help you locate such images.
ARTstor is a searchable database of over 500,000 images, encompassing architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, and the decorative arts. Type keywords in the Search box (or use the Advanced Search to apply limiters such as country or date range), and follow the onscreen instructions to view and download images.
Oxford Art Online
Use the "Search for images only" box to search over 5,000 thumbnail art images, which can be enlarged and saved to your computer. You can also use the Image Search on the Advanced Search page to search among 40,000 art images available on the websites of museums worldwide.
Google Image Search
Search for photographs, illustrations, and artworks from across the Internet, using Google's well-known keyword search engine.
For assistance with formatting your citations in Chicago style, consult the University of Wisconsin's online guide or ask for the Chicago Manual of Style (Ready Ref Z253 .U69) at the library's reference desk.