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Research Guide for Africa and the African Diaspora

This is a guide to resources on Africa and the African Diaspora available to you at Augustana. It can help you get started on Africa-related research papers you write for the Africana Studies program.

If you need help using any of the resources listed here, please visit the reference desk on the 2nd floor of the library, or get in touch via phone (309-794-7206), email (, or the yellow "Ask a Question" box on every library webpage.

Reference Resources

Use reference resources to find background information before you begin your research in earnest. Not only will a reference article bring you up-to-speed on an unfamiliar topic, but many include bibliographies as well, which can give you a great place to start locating sources.

Books on African history are in the DT section of the reference collection. Because Africana Studies encompasses so many different disciplines, you will find books relevant to Africa in many other areas as well. Use the blue Library of Congress handout (copies are at the reference desk) to identify which section might be relevant to your particular topic.

Here is an electronic reference resource you may find useful:

Credo Reference
Online collection of more than 550 reference books in all subject areas. Think of this as an online supplement to the reference books on the 2nd floor of the library.

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Scholarly Articles

Augustana does not subscribe to an Africana Studies-specific database, so, when you search for scholarly journal articles and book chapters, you will need to identify a database for the academic discipline in which you're working (history, anthropology, art history, etc.). There are two databases, though, that will be useful for most topics:

Full-text database covering a wide variety of disciplines. Start at the Advanced Search screen, where you can limit your results to a particular document type, like journal articles or book reviews. You can also limit your results to specific subject areas, including Africana Studies.

Multilingual, multidisciplinary database covering the humanities and social sciences, including archaeology, geography, linguistics, philosophy, religion, and sociology. FRANCIS is not a full-text database; see below for instructions on obtaining full-text copies of the articles you find.

Other databases: Augustana has about 100 databases, many of which focus on particular subject areas, such as history, literature, political science, and so on. These databases also index articles on Africa and the African Diaspora, and you should discover the best ones to search whenever you start a project in Africana Studies. Begin by clicking "Databases" on the library's website; open the drop-down menu and browse databases from different subject areas (Humanities, Social Sciences, etc.) If you have a specific database you want to search, you can go to "Databases A-Z" instead.

Here is a sampling of databases that may be useful:

Finally, here is an Internet database you might try. Because it is available free on the web rather than through a paid subscription, this resource is somewhat difficult to use. Try searching here, though, if you need more than what is available through the databases above.
Three databases of literature on Africa: 1) Africana Periodical Literature, 2) African Women, and 3) Women Travelers, Explorers and Missionaries to Africa. Most material is from the social sciences. Originally created by Davis Bullwinkle, former director of the Institute for Economic Advancement Research Library, University of Arkansas.

Follow these steps to get a copy of a journal article in full-text:

  1. Check whether the article is full-text in the database. If not . . .
  2. Search the journal title under "Journals & Magazines" on the library's homepage. If we don't have the journal . . .
  3. Order your article through interlibrary loan.

Note that many databases will sometimes locate books and book chapters as well. Search ALiCat then I-Share to locate a copy of the book to read. If you just want one chapter/article from a book that Augustana does not own, you can order just that chapter through ILL.

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Circulating Books

ALiCat and I-Share
For books at Augustana and in academic libraries across Illinois. If you want books from I-Share be sure to start early, because they will take a few days to arrive.

For books from libraries across the United States and the rest of the world. If you cannot find the book you need in I-Share, try here. To order a book, click the title and then follow the link to interlibrary loan.

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Newspaper Articles

To find newspapers and periodicals in English, search the library's databases:

Lexis-Nexis Academic
Augustana's most comprehensive newspaper database; most of the publications here won't go back further than the later twentieth century. Click "Sources" to find particular newspapers, or to search for papers from particular countries.

New York Times
Full-text and image coverage of the New York Times, 1851-2009. (To find more recent articles, search Lexis-Nexis.)

Newspaper Source
Selected full-text for hundreds of U.S. and international newspapers.

The databases above are excellent for American newspaper articles. Lexis-Nexis is the only one that includes numerous African news sources, but even L-N's is a fairly limited collection. The websites below are directories that lead you to the websites of major and minor newspapers and other news media outlets from across the world. Use these directories to find many more recent news articles from Africa.

Mondo Times - Local News Media Around the World
On this page, scroll down to find newspapers from Africa. Mondo Times also indicates the language in which each paper is published.

ABYZ News Links - Africa Newspapers and News Media
Directory of news sources including television stations, Internet sites and magazines as well as newspapers. ABYZ News Links, too, specifies the language of each news source. - World Newspapers and Magazines - Africa
Directory of magazines and newspapers. specifies the political affiliations of the news sources it features.
Leading aggregator of news from and about Africa. Many of the articles here come from African newspapers, but you will also find information from various other African and international organizations.

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Art and Other Digital Images

The resources below can all help you locate visual images. For scholarship about art and other images, see the sections above on journal articles and books.

The first three resources below are subscription databases, provided by Augustana. The final link is to an Internet resource.

Non-profit digital library with a collection of approximately 500,000 images covering art, architecture and archeology. ARTstor's software tools enable viewing and analyzing images through zooming and panning, saving groups of images online for personal or shared uses, and creating and delivering presentations both online and offline.

Camio (Catalog of Art Museum Images Online)
High-quality art images from around the world contributed and described by leading museums, all rights-cleared for educational use. Every work in CAMIO is represented by at least one high-resolution image and a description. Many have additional views of the work, sound, video and curatorial notes.

Oxford Art Online (Grove Art)
Oxford Art Online presents the entire text of The Dictionary of Art (published in 1996), updated and fully indexed, searchable and browsable, with over 45,000 articles and more than 40,000 links to important art images in galleries and museums around the world. You have the option of searching only for images.

Africa Focus: Sights and Sounds of a Continent
Africa Focus reports that it "contains more than 3000 slides, 500 photographs, [and] 50 hours of sounds from forty-five different countries, as well as a large number of difficult to find texts." The materials come from University of Wisconsin faculty and staff and the collections of the University of Wisconsin Libraries.

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Government Documents

Augustana is not a United States government repository, so you are not likely to find government documents here in print. However, many government documents--from the United States as well as other countries--are now available full-text online.

Your main challenge will be to find foreign government documents in English. This website can help you do so:

Law Library of Congress: Nations of the World
Guide to primary and secondary information on government and law from nations around the world.

The sites below are for United States government documents:

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications
Centralized catalog (database) for accessing a large variety of government publications. Links to full-text are provided where available.

Congressional Hearings
Congressional hearings in full-text back to 1995; partial full-text back to 1985.

Government Information on the Web
Research guide to locating additional full-text government documents on the Internet.

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United Nations Statistics Division
The UN keeps statistics going back, in some cases, to 1945. Not all of their statistics are online, and the ones that are may require some digging through this website before you find them. I recommend browsing the "Statistical Databases" page and the "Demographic and Social Statistics" page to start.

International Historical Statistics: Africa, Asia & Oceania 1750-1993 - Reference collection - HA4675 .M552 1998
This book has chapters on various broad topics, including population, labor, agriculture, industry, and so on. Find the topic you want in the table of contents, then page through that section for information on Africa and African countries.

Statistical Yearbook 2009 - Reference collection - HA36 .U4151 2009
Published by the UN, this book is often easier to use than the UN Statistics Division website; the statistics in the Yearbook are mostly from 2000 and later.

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Web Resources

There are numerous high-quality Africana Studies-related websites on the Internet. As you evaluate potential websites, keep the following criteria in mind:

  • Purpose: What does this site intend to accomplish, and how should that affect the way I use its information?
  • Authority: Who created this website and supplied its content? Is that person/organization a trustworthy source of information?
  • Relevance: Is the information on this site appropriate to my research needs?
  • Currency: When was this site last updated, and is that important to my research?
  • Bias: Does this site approach the topic from a particular perspective or point of view? How should that affect the way I use this information?

The sites below are Internet directories of high-quality Africana Studies-related websites. Browse through these sites to find specific websites that may help with your research:

African Studies Internet Resources
"Columbia University's collection of African Studies Internet Resources is an ongoing compilation of electronic bibliographic resources and research materials on Africa available on the global Internet, created under the purview of the African Studies Department of Columbia University Libraries." Includes a page specifically on the African Diaspora.

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