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Research Guide for Africa and the African Diaspora

Reference Resources - Scholarly Articles - Circulating Books - Newspaper Articles
Art and Other Digital Images - Government Documents - Statistics - Web Resources

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 research help desk on the 2nd floor of the library, or get in touch via phone (309-794-7206), email (, or the "Ask an Augustana Librarian" chat box on the library's home page.


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 are two electronic reference resources you may find useful (go to: Library home page --> Electronic Reference):

Gale Virtual Reference Library
A vast collection of electronic reference books covering a wide variety of subject areas. Think of this as an online supplement to the reference books on the 2nd floor of the library.

Credo Reference
Like Gale Virtual Reference, Credo is an electronic collection of reference books; Credo and Gale have different content, so it may be worth searching both.

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Scholarly Articles

(for all databases, go to: Library home page --> Databases --> Databases A-Z)

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 is one database, 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.

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:

  • America: History & Life
  • Anthropology Plus
  • Art and Architecture Complete
  • ATLA Religion Index
  • Historical Abstracts
  • Index Islamicus
  • MLA International Bibliography (for articles on literature)
  • Political Science Complete
  • RILM Abstracts (for articles on music)
  • Sociological Abstracts

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.
Six databases of literature on Africa: 1) Africana Periodical Literature, 2) African Women, 3) Women Travelers to Africa, 4) Islam in Africa, 5) Kenya Coast, and 6) Water and 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.

Help!! The article I want is not available in full-text!

If the article you want is not available full-text in the database . . .

  1. Search the journal title under "Journals & Magazines" on the library's homepage. In the result list, compare the dates of access to the date of the article you want. Follow the corresponding links, or go to the correct call number area on 1st floor if the journal is in print. If we don't have access at Augustana . . .
  2. Order your article through interlibrary loan (linked under "Research Tools" on the library home page; some of our databases also have links to ILL directly from the article record).

If you locate a book or book chapter in one of our databases, search ALiCat/I-Share to find a copy of the book to read. If Augustana does not own the book, and you only need a single chapter, you may order the chapter through interlibrary loan.

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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 (go to: Library home page --> Databases --> Databases A-Z):

LexisNexis Academic
Augustana's most comprehensive newspaper database, covering national and international papers from the later twentieth century to the present. Tips:

  • In the small print on the top, click "Find" to find a particular newspaper and search within it
  • In the small print on the top, click "Browse" to discover English-language papers from countries across the world, including African countries

Newsstand Expanded
Current full-text of articles from major newspapers across the United States.

Historical New York Times
Full-text and image coverage of the New York Times, 1851-2012. (To find more recent articles from the New York Times, search Lexis-Nexis or Newsstand Expanded [above].)

Historical Chicago Tribune
Full-text and image coverage of the Chicago Tribune, 1849-1991. (To find more recent articles from the Chicago Tribune, search Newsstand Expanded [above].)

The databases above are excellent for American newspaper articles. LexisNexis is the only one that includes numerous African news sources, but even LN'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 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, paid for by Augustana (go to: Library home page --> Images).

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.

Grove Art Online
Grove 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 "brings together, in digital form, two categories of primary and secondary resources: research and teaching materials collected by University of Wisconsin faculty and staff; and unique or valuable items related to these fields held by the University of Wisconsin Libraries. This collection contains more than 3000 slides, 500 photographs, and 50 hours of sounds from forty-five different countries."

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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.

Law Library of Congress: Nations of the World
Guide to primary and secondary information on government and law from nations around the world. If you need government documents from Africa that have been translated into English, this is a good place to go.

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.

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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.

Statista (go to: Library home page --> Databases --> Databases A-Z)
This database provides statistics and other quantitative information from across the world. Once you have a result list, you'll have the option of narrowing by region to Africa only.

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 2013 - Reference collection - HA36 .U4151
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 site below is a Web directory 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 on-going 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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Page created by Stefanie Bluemle, librarian for history, philosophy, and religion. Updated October 2016.