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English Distinguished Majors Program

A guide to conducting research for students in the UVA English Dept. Distinguished Majors Program

Library Catalogs

VIRGO, the UVA Library’s primary search tool, contains catalog records for books, print journals, DVDs, maps, and digitized materials, as well as links to online articles from our rich array of subscription journals. You can search catalog materials and articles together, or view those results separately, using the "facets" provided to limit your results by author, format, publication period, and more.  

Items from Special Collections can be found using Virgo. Use the Library facet to limit your results to Special Collections, and the Format facet to limit to a type of item (Books, Manuscripts/Archives, Visual Materials, etc.)

WorldCat is a vast union catalog, containing listings of books, journals, manuscripts, maps, and other materials in thousands of libraries worldwide. It's a wonderful resource for locating obscure items, although inclusion of older and/or foreign materials is not always complete.

Journal Indexes and Archives

The MLA International Bibliography (MLAIB) indexes the broadest range of resources about literature in all languages, including over 4,000 journals as well as books and dissertations. In addition to literature, MLAIB covers language and linguistics, folklore, film, literary theory and criticism, dramatic arts, as well as the historical aspects of printing and publishing. Listings on rhetoric and composition and the history, theory and practice of teaching language and literature are also included. MLAIB is not a full-text resource, meaning that you can only search the description of an article, rather than the text of the article. To get the full text of an article, click on “Find article @ UVa Libraries”, or look up the journal title in VIRGO.

Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL) is a good supplement to the MLAIB, and may turn up additional articles and book citations. Unlike the MLAIB, ABELL includes reviews of scholarly books.

Project Muse provides full-text searching of recent articles from major scholarly journals, including about 120 journals about literature. Not as comprehensive as MLAIB, but the full-text search will do a better job of picking up matches for specific themes or subjects. Articles are immediately available as PDFs.

JSTOR contains back issues (usually five years old or older) of significant scholarly journals in many subjects, including language and literature.  Like Project Muse, JSTOR is not as comprehensive as the MLAIB, but offers the advantages of full-text searching and instant access to PDFs.

Google Scholar is an index of scholarly literature across all disciplines, somewhat weighted toward the sciences.  Use the "Library Links" (under the Settings menu) to identify the University of Virginia as your library; this will activate Find@UVA links in your results list.

Searchable Databases of Primary Works

Below are a few primary works sources that may be of interest. For a more detailed list by time period, genre, and themed collection, see the English Language & Literature Guide Primary Sources page

Sabin Americana, 1500-1926 is a vast online collection of books, pamphlets, serials and other works about the Americas and the Caribbean.

Literature Online (LION) contains a surprisingly complete collection of full-text poetry, prose, and drama up through the early 20th century. You can search within a particular author or title, or limit by date, gender, ethnicity, or literary movement.

Google Book Search Search the books Google has scanned from libraries and publishers. Choose "About this book" for abstract, table of contents, and books and articles related to the book. Full-text search of books in non-Roman alphabets is still imperfect.

HathiTrust includes material scanned by the American Google Books partner institutions (including U.Va.) plus other digitized materials from those institutions. Features better bibliographic data and better treatment of multi-volume works than Google Books.

Historical Newspapers and Periodicals

The library has vast collections of newspapers and periodicals, historical and current, in print, on microfilm, and online.  Listed below are just a few of the online resources for finding historical newspapers and periodicals; more sources can be found on the English Language and Literature Primary Sources page under Historical Newspapers  or in  the Newspapers Guide for more information.  For current newspapers, NexisUni is your best bet.

British Newspapers:

The Times Digital Archive contains full text of the London Times from 1785-1985, including articles, advertisements, illustrations, and photographs.

19th Century British Library Newspapers includes searchable full text and page images of 48 national and regional British newspapers from the collections of the British Library.

American Newspapers:

ProQuest Historical Newspapers is a searchable archive of mainstream US newspapers, including the NY Times (1851-1999), the Wall Street Journal (1889-1995), the Chicago Tribune (1890-1969), the Washington Post (1877-1987), and the LA Times (1881-1985), as well as prominent black newspapers including the Chicago Defender, Norfolk Journal and Guide, Pittsburgh Courier, Baltimore Afro-American, and NY Amsterdam News.

African-American Newspapers - 1827-1860  provides searchable text and page images for 7 African-American newspapers published between in the decades leading up to the Civil War. 

Ethnic NewsWatch - 1985-present includes full-text of newspaper, magazine, and journal articles from 200 ethnic, minority, and native publications in the U.S., in English and in Spanish.


Dissertations & Theses Global: Lists dissertations and some master’s theses from as early as 1861. All entries since 1997 are available in full text as PDFs. Note that in recent years, many dissertations have been deposited in institutional repositories (like our own Libra) and may not be included in the Dissertations database.  For tips on finding them, visit our Dissertations guide.