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ENGL 2599: Uncovering 19th- and 20th-Century British Writers of Color

Research guide for students in Indu Ohri's Spring 2021 English 2599 class.

Preparing for Research

This guide was created to help you prepare for your annotated bibliography assignment and other portions of the OVM anthology project. 

In preparation for your research, you hopefully have thought some about possible questions to lead your search. You will also want to spend some time thinking about how you will conduct your research. 

  • Fine-tune your searches.
    Think broadly when brainstorming search terms. What synonyms or related terms could stand in for your key search terms?
    You can combine search terms using AND ("British Empire" AND India) and OR (folklore OR folktale OR fable OR legend). 
    In many databases, the asterisk (*) is a truncation or "wildcard" symbol  that will match all possible endings for a word stem.  For example, sex* will match sexism, sexual, sexuality, sexualize, etc. 
    Most databases have filters or facets that allow you to narrow your results by subject, date range, etc. Limit your searches to help you find the sources you need. 

  • Think about where you might find the type of information you are seeking.
    Will you find the research you need in an e-book? An article? A newspaper? A documentary? An interview? Cast a wide net when looking for the types of resources that could help answer your research question or support an argument you are making. 

  • Know the difference between academic and non-academic sources, and when it's appropriate to use them.
    Most databases allow you to limit results to academic/scholarly/peer-reviewed sources. Be mindful of your assignment and what you're being asked to provide. Need a refresher? Watch the short video Peer Review in 3 Minutes.

  • When you find a good source, use it to find other good sources. 
    Use the subject terms and keywords associated with an item to find other items on similar topics. Scholarly books and articles will have works cited, bibliographies, or footnotes you can mine for additional resources. 

Need help? Ask a librarian.  

Biographical & Biocritical Databases

Use the following databases to search for biographical and critical information related to the authors your group will be highlighting. 

Gale Literature includes the Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB) which traces the lives and careers of selected authors, critics, screenwriters, journalists, scholars, and publishers from all eras and genres, with lists of recommended books and articles. Search for the author you want and choose the Biographies tab. The link above will take you to Gale Literature, a larger collection where you can also find criticism, reviews, and more. 

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) provides articles on the lives of British persons from the earliest times to the end of the 20th century. Note: We only have limited access so please close your browser when finished with this resource

ProQuest One Literature contains 3 million literature citations from thousands of journals, monographs, dissertations, and more than 500,000 primary works – including rare and obscure texts, multiple versions, and non-traditional sources like comics, theatre performances, and author readings.

World Biographical Information System (WBIS Online) is the most comprehensive biographical database available, providing biographical information on over 6 Million people from the 8th century B.C. to the present. Included are 8.5 Million digital facsimile articles from biographical reference works.

Ebooks Related to Authors and their Works

Finding books and articles using Virgo 

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. To find online, set the Availability filter to Online to limit your catalog search results. 

Databases for Finding Articles about Literature & Folklore

Databases for Researching Literature  (See an A-Z list of all databases

MLA International Bibliography (MLAIB) indexes the broadest range of resources about literature in all languages, as well as film, television, and popular culture, including over 4,000 journals as well as books and dissertations. For articles not available full-text in MLA, click on “Find article @ UVa Libraries,” or look up the journal title in Virgo, the library catalog.

ProQuest One Literature  is for scholars who want to engage with an exhaustive and diverse set of scholarly resources around a given literary topic for research. It contains 3 million literature citations from thousands of journals, monographs, dissertations, and more than 500,000 primary works – including rare and obscure texts, multiple versions, and non-traditional sources like comics, theater performances, and author readings.

JSTOR includes older issues of scholarly journals in many disciplines including literature, from the start to 3-5 years ago.

Project Muse offers searchable full text of nearly 600 scholarly journals in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics, mostly from North American university presses. Older volumes are often available from JSTOR.

Databases for finding Articles and Primary Sources for Broader Context

Historical abstracts  allows you to find articles about the history of the world from 1450 to the present, published in over 2,000 journals from many countries. Does not include articles about the US or Canada. For these see America: History & Life.

East India Company offers access to a unique collection of India Office Records from the British Library, London. Containing royal charters, correspondence, trading diaries, minutes of council meetings and reports of expeditions, among other document types, this resource charts the history of British trade and rule in the Indian subcontinent and beyond from 1599 to 1947.

Africa-Wide Information is an aggregation of nearly 50 databases sourced from Africa, Europe and the U.S. This comprehensive database collection integrates content from NISC’s South African Studies, African Studies and African HealthLine databases. Africa-Wide Information provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary information documenting research and publications by Africans and about Africa. This database comprises more than 3.5 million media reports, scholarly articles, books, theses, citations and document abstracts dating back to the 16th century.

Academic Search Complete is a large general database of articles from scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers on many topics. Also includes reference books, biographies, speeches, images, and other primary source documents. 


Researching the reception history of a book

19th- and 20th-century periodical and newspaper databases are great sources for finding contemporary reviews of books. Stories were also sometimes serialized in periodicals or papers, so you may find a folktale printed in a periodical publication as well. A few examples of databases of this type are listed below.

British Periodicals includes hundreds of periodicals from the late seventeenth century to the early twentieth, reproduced in high-resolution facsimile page images. The periodicals cover literature and the arts, as well as philosophy, history, science, and social science.

The Times Digital Archive allows users to search he full text of the Times of London from 1785-1985.

19th Century UK Periodicals, Part 1 includes British periodicals on a range of subjects, with a particular focus on women's and children's publications. There is a small amount of overlap with the British Periodicals database.

British Library Newspapers includes newspapers sourced from the extensive holdings of the British Library. It includes over 160 newspaper titles that span the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.

Example Ebooks for Historical and Literary Context