The main search tools for finding books, articles, databases, archival collections, and more at Yale (and beyond) can all be found on the "Find, Request, and Use" page of the library's website. Here are a few quick refreshers, but be sure to visit the page for a full overview:
James Kessenides, Librarian for African American Studies and American History, email@example.com
Background or "reference" sources are a great place to start your research. Reference works include bibliographies, scholarly encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and other sources that provide overviews of topics and suggestions for further reading.
Oxford African American Studies Center
Comprehensive collection of scholarly reference articles focused on the lives and events that have shaped African American and African history and culture.
Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History
A scholarly encyclopedia with informative articles, each one providing a discussion of the literature including primary sources. Just a couple of examples of several potentially helpful articles include:
This is an extensive collection of annotated bibliographies that are keyword searchable and can also be browsed by subject area -- there are several articles (sometimes on the same topic across multiple disciplines) that may provide helpful starting points for your research, often listing both primary and secondary sources. A few examples are:
• "Mass Incarceration in the United States and Its Collateral Consequences"
Oxford Handbooks Online
Lengthy chapters in the Oxford Handbooks usually provide helpful overviews of scholarly topics and historical literature, along with suggestions for further reading. A number of the handbooks may be helpful depending on your research topic. Volumes in the series include:
• The Oxford Handbook of Prisons and Imprisonment
This resource brings together reference articles, along with selected primary and secondary sources for getting started on your research.
This database brings together many reference as well as primary and secondary sources. Includes collections of Black historical newspapers, archival primary source collections such as the Papers of the NAACP, academic journals, video content, and the Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience.
Routledge Handbook on American Prisons
Includes scholarly journal articles and monographs as well as reference works. Often a single chapter or two within a reference work can provide a helpful starting point for research. Titles include The Handbook of Law and Society and A Companion to Post-1945 America.
In addition to the online library catalog (Books+ and Orbis), reference sources, and footnotes in the sources you're already finding, subject-specific databases of journal articles, book reviews, and the like are another extremely helpful resource for finding secondary literature. Here are a couple of key ones for research in African American Studies and American history:
Additional subject databases could prove relevant to your work -- here is another potentially useful one: