American Women's History: A Research Guide
Finding Journal Articles
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General Tips
  1. Use appropriate print and/or electronic indexes to determine the exact location (e.g., periodical title, volume number, pages) of articles about your topic.
  2. If possible, use multiple indexes. No single index can cover every journal which might include articles about your topic.
  3. Subject headings often vary significantly from database to database. For instance, these headings are called "Descriptors" in the America: History & Life database. The researcher who uses the same search term in a periodicals database that she had used in a library catalog often achieves poor results. For instance, "blacks" would be an appropriate "descriptor" term in the periodicals database America: History and Life, whereas "afro-americans" is the appropriate Library of Congress subject heading.
  4. Use cumulative indexes to specific history journals. Such indexes often provide much more detailed coverage of journal content than do databases such as America: History and Life. See the web page for the journal California History for an excellent example of a journal index. Indexes to specific journals are noted throughout American Women's History: A Research Guide.
  5. The researcher can often find additional and unexpected references in "citation indexes."
  6. Ask a reference librarian at your library if you need further assistance.

Journal Indexes, Databases, and Related Tools

Most bibliographies include references to journal articles, as well as books, government documents, and other materials. See the Bibliographies section of this guide for references to general bibliographies. In addition, most of the sections within the Subject Index to Research Sources include references to appropriate bibliographies.

America: History and Life: A Guide to Periodical Literature. Ipswich, MA : EBSCO Pub.
This is the best starting point for articles about the history of the United States and Canada.

Feminist Periodicals: A Current Listing of Contents. Madison, Wisc.: Women's Studies Librarian, 1981- . Quarterly.
Reprints the table of contents pages of over 100 magazines and journals, many of which are not covered in standard indexes.

JSTOR [database]. New York: JSTOR, 1995- .
Offers image and full text access to back issues of scholarly journals in a variety of academic fields. Overview from the publisher.

Periodicals Contents Index [database]. [Alexandria, Va.]: Chadwyck-Healey, 1996- . Author, title and keyword access to older issues (through 1990) of 3000 journals in the humanities and social sciences.
Chadwyck-Healey offers an overview of PCI and PCI Full Text.

ViVa: A Current Bibliography of Women's History in Historical and Women's Studies Journals [online]. International Institute of Social History, 1994- . Annual. Available from

Women's Studies International [EBSCO]. includes the following database files: Women Studies Abstracts, Women's Studies Bibliography Database, Women's Studies Database, Women Studies Librarian, Women of Color and Southern Women: A Bibliography of Social Science Research, and Women's Health and Development: An Annotated Bibliography. More information.

Citation Indexes: A Unique Tool

The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) produces the two citation databases listed below. Citation indexes are particularly useful because they show which journal articles have cited specific works or authors. For example, a researcher tracing the historiography of studies of plantation mistresses could search for citations to Clinton's The Plantation Mistress and to Fox-Genovese's Within the Plantation Household. Ask a reference librarian at your local library whether you have access to an electronic version of this index. The printed index has very small print and is quite time consuming to use. ISI's home page offers Additional Information".

Arts & Humanities Citation Index. Philadelphia: Institute for Scientific Information, 1977- .

Social Sciences Citation Index. Philadelphia: Institute for Scientific Information, 1973- .

American Women's History: A Research Guide
Ken Middleton
Middle Tennessee State University Library