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Library building hours and access are limited at this time. Services and support are being provided remotely. See COVID-19 library updates.

American History through American Lives: Home

A resource guide for participants in Professor David Engerman's Yale National Initiative Seminar.

Reference Sources

Unless otherwise noted, these resources require access via the Yale Virtual Private Network (VPN).

The African American National Biography

Edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. Emergency temporary online access available for Volumes 2-8 to Yale affiliates through Hathi Trust Digital Library.

American National Biography Online

Important reference work. An excellent resource with detailed biographical entries and helpful bibliographies.

Biography Reference Center

Excellent resource for getting started. You can browse biographies by genre on the right sidebar.

Black Studies Center

Includes the Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, Index to Black Periodicals Full Text, Black Literature Index, and more. 

Cambridge Histories and Cambridge Companions

Depending on your project, there may be a Cambridge History or Cambridge Companion that is relevant and worth consulting. The Histories are usually multi-volume works with long, detailed chapters written by different scholars. The Companions are edited collections of essays by multiple scholars and are great for delving into a particular historical or literary figure. Titles include the Cambridge Companion to Henry David Thoreau and the Cambridge Companion to the African American Slave Narrative.

Gale in Context: Biography

Informative entries on more than 5000 people with very helpful suggestions for further reading.

Oxford African American Studies Center

An aggregation of numerous useful reference works, including biographical dictionaries. Also includes primary sources.

Oxford Bibliographies

A collection of many annotated bibliographies, arranged into modules by subject. Primary and secondary sources both are usually annotated. Check for articles in the African American Studies, American Literature, and Atlantic History modules among others (scroll down these home pages for a thumbnail listing of all of the articles in a module).

Oxford Handbooks Online

A useful starting point for many projects. Includes, for example, The Oxford Handbook of Asian American HistoryEach handbook in the series has informative chapters written by experts. You can browse by subject and select "History" (50 books) and then use the refinements available on the left sidebar of the next page to further narrow your selections. 

Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History

Wiley Online Library

This site aggregates a lot of content -- journal articles, e-books, and reference books. The Wiley Companions are especially useful -- e.g., A Companion to Asian American Studies, which brings together 20 essays central to defining the field of Asian American Studies. If you scroll down the home page of the database, you can browse by subject areas -- e.g., "Humanities" and then "History."


Finding e-books through Quicksearch

Yale's Quicksearch interface can be used to find e-books by starting from the single search box on the library homepage or by going directly to the Books+ portion of Quicksearch. After running a search, you can select "Show Online Results Only" and use the search refinements on the left sidebar to limit the format to books.  

A brief video on using Quicksearch to find e-books can be found here.

Finding journal articles through Quicksearch

Yale's Quicksearch interface can be used to find electronic journal articles by starting from the single search box on the library homepage or by going directly to the Articles+ portion of Quicksearch. After running a search, you will be able to refine your results by using various filters, such as journal articles and book reviews.

A brief video on using Quicksearch to find journal articles can be found here.

Scan and Deliver & Interlibrary Loan

COVID 19 - Scan and Deliver & Interlibrary Loan

The library will continue to process interlibrary loan requests for articles and chapters, and will now offer limited Scan & Deliver service. However, turnaround time for these services may be significantly delayed, and the fulfillment of interlibrary loan requests is dependent on our partner libraries. We ask that you prioritize requesting items that are the most urgent for your research, course work, or patient care needs.

At this time, BorrowDirect and physical interlibrary loan services are suspended until further notice. Please keep any BorrowDirect or interlibrary loan items you may have in your possession; no need to return those items to campus at this time. All fines and fees for overdue items will be waived for your BorrowDirect and interlibrary loan items.

More library updates regarding COVID 19 can be found on the library's COVID-19 homepage.

Hathi Trust Emergency Temporary Access Service

Hathi Trust’s Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS) provides online access to in-copyright books in the Yale Library collection.  Catalog records for ETAS items can be found through Quicksearch and Orbis. If you’re already using the Yale VPN, you can click on the “Log In” link at the top of any Hathi Trust page and select Yale from the drop-down menu (if you access Hathi Trust without using the VPN, you will initially receive a prompt to use Duo Multi-Factor Authentication in order to access the database first).

A short video on the Hathi Trust ETAS can be found here, and a library guide here.

Internet Archive

Catalog records for e-books from the Internet Archive can be found through Orbis and Quicksearch. The Internet Archive ran the National Emergency Library until June 16, 2020, and is currently making books in the library available to one borrower at a time. More information can be found here.

To use the National Emergency Library, borrowers will need to create an Internet Archive account -- information on signing up is available here.

Primary Sources

Access requires use of Yale Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Access requires use of Yale Virtual Private Network (VPN).

No login required.

Library contacts

James Kessenides, Kaplanoff LIbrarian for American History,

Information about remote access to electronic resources is available here. If you encounter any questions when using the Yale VPN, please contact the Yale ITS Help Desk at 203-432-9000.