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Let us know if you have questions as Essay 3 gets underway. We can triage by email or meet up in Lamont to talk about how to find the information that you need.
- Sue Gilroy, Librarian for Undergraduate Programs for Writing, Lamont and Widener Libraries
- Diane Sredl, Data Services Librarian, Lamont Library
If you have general questions about library resources, people, or services, try them first the search box below. We're building a knowledge base of frequently asked questions. The answer you're after may be already there!
Getting yourself started
This resource guide has been designed for students taking Abigail Williamson's Spring 2012 Expository Writing course, Immigration in America.
Tools of the Trade (linked from the Harvard Guide to Using Sources and also available below) is the College Library's "starter kit" for first year students. This e-text is meant to furnish you with a broad understanding of Harvard's research environment and some of the ways to navigate effectively within it. We suggest you read through it as preparation for the work you're about to undertake.
The other resources and strategies described briefly on this page are more specifically targeted. They represent our first best guesses at where you might find the information you'll need to execute Essay 3 successfully. They may -- or may not -- end up being perfect matches. See them as starting points for your city analysis. Good research is often about following up on hunches, testing out a hypothesis and then seeing where else (or to what else) it leads.
Enjoy the adventure!
Sources to help you contextualize immigration issues
In the early stages of research -- often before your research question emerges -- you may have a knowledge gap to close or just a need to understand the backgrounds, contexts, or broad "history" of a topic you're considering. Resources like these might help situate your thinking in certain ways:
- CQ Researcher: you may not find detailed treatments of particular cities in this database, but you will find immigration and issues related to ethnic diversity well-covered here. Use it to broadly frame an issue or debate that you'll explore on a local (city) level. Each week, CQ Researcher produces a 20-30 page report devoted to one "hot button" topic in the U.S. and then treats it in-depth, covering it fairly, and from all sides.
- Encylopedia of American Immigration: this 4 volume encyclopedia offers perspectives on historical and contemporary issues related to immigration.
- Ethnic NewsWatch: features newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic and minority press, materials that offer different perspectives from what you often find in the mainstream sources. ENW provides full-text for more than 300 publications, some national and some regional. The database is searchable from about 1990 forward.
Sources of city history and information
- HOLLIS: the catalog will be a treasure trove of information on most American cities. Usually, you can just put the name of the city (or the city and state abbreviation in cases where the place name is common, as with Providence, R.I.) Remember that your search results are listed by "relevancy" so just resort by date if the most recently published materials are more valuable to your research. Experiment by adding words like history or social or ethnic (or something else). If your city isn't represented generously in HOLLIS, try searching a bit more broadly -- for state histories. You may find some coverage there.
- LexisNexis State Capital: among the nice features of this e-resource are the collection of state site links. The State Agencies/Commissions category helps you locate tourism boards, local chambers of commerce, press releases and other, city level information, including some history. LexisNexis State Capitol also identifies state newspapers of record and allows searching of the full-text (with some exceptions).
- LexisNexis Academic: a large, full-text collection of news sources -- local, national, and international. Newspapers not available in full-text in this resource are usually searchable in the competitor product, called Factiva and produced by the Dow Jones company.
- Encyclopedia of American Urban History: a 2 volume reference work which profiles major cities and provides comprehensive coverage, from many disciplines, of issues that cities give rise to.
- Images of America: subtitled a "History of American Life in Texts and Images," it contains digitized full-text of many local histories published by the Arcadia press. Browse by subjects (like immigrants) or locale name; you can also search across the contents of the database with keywords you supply.
Finding scholarly conversations in Harvard e-resources
- Academic Search Premier (one of the essential library e-resources profiled in Tools of the Trade, above) will be a good launching pad for sampling scholarly discussions of the issues you'll be grappling with in Essay 3. Its coverage is broad (some newspaper and magazine articles might surface in your search, too) and it's multidisciplinary (so there's a little something on all sorts of subjects from anthropology to zoology).
But if you decide to go further and deeper -- or if you just wonder "what else?" or "what more?" -- try one of these library e-resources as a next step:
Why use them? In the fields it covers, Sociological Abstracts is the gold standard. Race Relations Abstracts gives significant coverage to immigration issues. Together, they'll provide you with a reliable, accurate, and fairly comprehensive record of the books scholars are publishing and the ideas they're debating and discussing in important and influential journals. The scholarship that these e-resources identify is "premium content" -- and by and large, that means you won't ever be able to get to these materials freely via Google on the "open" web.
Sources of statistics, public opinion, and public policy
- Social Explorer is a great place to find information about cities and states. It has data from the US Census and American Community Surveys and provides statistics on a number of topics including population, race and immigration. The data can be found under the "Reports" tab.
- US Census Bureau - Foreign Born site will provide statistics on the foreign born population in the US. It will provide you with an overall picture of the US population.
- Immigration Data Hub is a good source for immigration statistics. It has information at the state level, but could help you focus on what part of the country you are interested in. It also has some US historical immigration trends.
- Roper Center for Public Opinion Research has public opinion data on many topics including immigration. You can search at the question-level using the iPoll link. The summary statistics will provide information at the national level, but can give you a sense of the nation's view of immigration issues.
- Public Opinion Data Resources Research Guide will provide additional places to look for public opinion polls. You might also want to look in the local newspapers for the area you're interested in to find other public opinion statistics.
- PolicyFile: the research done at academic centers or in public policy "think tanks" is often important to understanding issues and ideas under discussion at the local and national level. But because the papers produced by such organizations may not end up published scholarly journals, you sometimes need to search for them separately. PolicyFile provides direct links to and summaries of the most influential of these organizations. It's worth your while to have a look at thie e-resource, just to be sure you're not missing an interesting "voice" in immigration and urban studies debates.