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AFSP101: Introduction to Africana Studies

The assignment: For your "Enduring Connections" project, select and research a topic related to the ways African immigrants in the U.S. continue to engage Africa. The library research you do for this project will inform your interview with African immigrants in the Quad Cities community.

Selecting a topic - Developing context - Citing sources - Questions?

Selecting a topic

For the interview, you will select a topic involving the ways African immigrants in the Quad Cities continue their relationship with Africa. There are a large variety of potential topics you might choose. Here are some resources that could help:

Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History -- Reference collection, 2nd floor -- DT31 .A43 2008

  • See p. xxi in volume 1 for a list of articles organized by subject

Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience -- Reference collection, 2nd floor -- DT14 .A37435 2005

  • See p. 521 in volume 5 for a list of articles organized by subject

Encyclopedia of American Immigration -- Reference collection, 2nd floor -- JV6465 .E53 2010

  • See p. 1162 in volume 3 for a list of articles organized by subject
  • This resource only has a bit of information on African immigrants, specifically, but it can give you ideas about general issues that might also be relevant to the immigrants you interview.

Developing context

The context you develop for your topic should prepare you to ask good, thoughtful questions during the interview.

I recommend beginning with general contextual information, then moving toward more specific, focused information as you go along.

1. Encyclopedia articles are a good place to start, particularly if the topic is brand-new to you. The two encyclopedias listed above will be especially helpful for this assignment; to browse for additional encyclopedias, consult the blue Library of Congress handout, which you can find copies of near the reference collection on 2nd floor.

Another good source of encyclopedia articles is Credo Reference, an electronic database of full-text reference books (think of it as a supplement to the print reference collection). On the library homepage, go to: Electronic Reference --> Credo Reference.

2. Books will be your best second step. Consult the bibliography in the best reference book article you found, and track down one or two of the most relevant books listed. Then, search further in ALiCat and I-Share for additional books on your topic.

Remember that you don't need to read all of every book you find. What makes books an important second step is the scope of their arguments, which are much more focused than those of reference books but still broad enough to give you a rich context for the interview.

3. After you have developed a solid context for your topic by consulting books and reference materials, consider whether you need further, more specific information. This could take a couple of different forms.

  • Journal articles focus on very narrowly defined topics; you'll need a fair amount of background just to know whether any particular journal article can usefully inform your encounters with the local immigrant community.

The best databases to search for journal articles will be Historical Abstracts and JSTOR, both of which can be accessed via the library homepage: Databases --> Databases A-Z.

  • News articles will be location- and time-specific. As with journal articles, the usefulness of any given news article will be clearer once you have general context in which to place it.

Augustana's best source of news articles on Africa is Lexis-Nexis Academic (Library home --> Databases --> Databases A-Z). In the menu on the left-hand side of the main search page, select "Sources" --> "Browse for Sources" to identify newspapers from specific African countries.

On the Internet, the Stanford-sponsored web directory Africa South of the Sahara can help you find websites of African newspapers that are not included in Lexis-Nexis.

Citing sources

Choose a citation style and use it to cite your sources for the assignment. Online guides to common citation styles, including MLA and Chicago Manual of Style, are available here:

  • Library home --> Citing Sources (under "Research Tools")


You are welcome to contact me with questions about your research for this project. My email address is, and I work at the research help desk (on 2nd floor by the elevators) off and on throughout the week.

Or, approach any Augustana librarian for help at the research help desk: in person, or by phone (309-794-7206), email (, or the "Ask an Augustana Librarian" chat box on the main library webpage.

Page created by Stefanie Bluemle, librarian for history, religion, and philosophy. Updated September 2014.