This guide brings together a selection of information and key resources to assist you with your research for GOVT E-1751: Women in U.S. Politics taught by Dr. Sparsha Saha. Please get in touch with any questions that come up.

Tapping Into Scholarly Conversations

Literature Reviews & Bibliographies

  • Annual Reviews offers comprehensive, timely collections of critical reviews written by leading scholars.
  • Oxford Bibliographies authoritative guide to current scholarship, written and reviewed by academic experts, with original commentary and annotations. Sources are rigorously peer reviewed and vetted to ensure scholarly accuracy and objectivity.

Citation Searching & Subject Databases

Citation Searching enables you to find out how many times an article has been cited since it was published. This gives scholars a sense of the impact a publication has had in the field.

  • Web of Science is a multidisciplinary database covering the journal literature in the sciences and social sciences. A key feature is the ability to do citation searching in a comprehensive manner.

Every academic discipline has at least one subject database that's considered the disciplinary gold standard -- a reliable, (relatively) comprehensive, and accurate record of the books that scholars are publishing, and the ideas they're debating and discussing in important and influential journals.

  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
    A key database for both deep and broad access to scholarship in this discipline and the subfields that may be useful for your Expos 20 projects: political psychology, political communication, etc. 
  • America: History anLife 
    The premier database for scholarship on the history of U.S. and Canada; covers all eras, including contemporary topics.
  • Gender Watch 
    Accesses mainstream scholarly publications on issues related to women, gender roles, identity from a wide range of disciplines; also includes alternative press publications. 
  • PolicyFile
    A database of U.S. public policy research drawn from over 350 public policy think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, research institutes, university centers, advocacy groups, and other entities. One nice feature of PolicyFile is its ability to browse entities by political leaning (or to limit your results that way, once you've performed a keyword search).

Best Practices for Using HOLLIS

Using HOLLIS Well: Three Considerations


1.  Understand what HOLLIS is.

HOLLIS combines the extensive contents of our library catalog, the record every item owned by every Harvard Library with those of another, large and multidisciplinary database of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles. 

The system default is to search both of these large databases, but you can make different choices (excluding one or the other) before or after you execute a search. 


2. Know how to work HOLLIS.

Creating search strings with some of the techniques below can help you get better results up front. 


 3.  Take Control of Your Search Results.

While the broad and panoramic approach to searching HOLLIS can be mind-opening, you can sometimes find yourself overwhelmed by either the numbers or types of results your search returns.

When that happens, try one of these easy tricks:

  • Limit your Everything search results set just to the items listed in the LIBRARY CATALOG.

Your numbers will immediately get smaller. Keep in mind, though, that the results will be heavily weighted toward book-length studies.

  • Limit your Everything search results set to items that are identified as PEER REVIEWED ARTICLES.

You'll eliminate newspaper and magazine materials as well as books, of course, but you'll also raise the visibility of scholarly journal articles in what displays. 

  • Think about limiting your results to publications from the last 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.

By doing so you'll get a snapshot of the most recent research trends and scholarly approaches in a field (or around a particular issue).


Scan and Deliver

When an article you need is available in a print journal at Harvard but not online, you can ask us to make a PDF for you through a service called Scan and Deliver.

We'll send you an email when it's ready for downloading, typically between 1 and 4 days after you place the request. Scan and Deliver is a free service to Harvard affiliates.

Scan and Deliver is also an option if you want up to two chapters of any Harvard-owned book digitized for your use.  

NOTE: Initiate Scan and Deliver requests through HOLLIS.



When you're far from Cambridge, identifying books in print and on shelves in Harvard's library buildings can seem like a futile exercise. You can, however, often get your hands on items your find in HOLLIS even if you live many miles away from the Yard.


WorldCatthis is a database of library catalogs and useful for identifying college, university, and other library collections that are in your vicinity.  Search for the title; WorldCat will attempt to geolocate, but you can also enter your ZIPCODE to identify your options.

With WorldCat, you're going beyond the BorrowDirect consortium and beyond our reciprocal lending agreements.  However, as long as any of the area libraries allow you in (often a phone call or a scan of the website will clarify policy), you'll be in luck!

Check the catalog of the large PUBLIC LIBRARY in your area.  Depending on the region, the size of the library, its mission, and its funding, a local public library may have a significant research component to its collection (The Boston Public Library at Copley Square is a prime example). 

Ask your local library about an INTERLIBRARY LOAN.  Libraries routinely borrow from each other on behalf of their patrons; if you have a library card, you should be able to request it (or have a librarian do so).  ILL can take a bit of time, however. You might wait a week or a bit more before the item arrives. Some places charge a small fee for the service. 

Borrow Direct Plus: currently enrolled Extension School students who live near a member of this library consortium can obtain a card that allows access to the collections and privileges similar to those at Harvard libraries.  

Participating members: Brown U, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, U of Chicago, U Penn, Yale

If you live close by the college or university from which you graduated, ask about ALUMNI PRIVILEGES there


While You're Searching

  • Chat with a librarian.  Access via the right-side blue button on library pages.  Hours vary on Fridays and weekends, but Mondays-Thursdays, someone is available 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.


For More Complicated Questions about HOLLIS (or your research needs)

  • Use our Ask a Librarian page to submit a question by emial OR set up an appointment with a research librarian.  Normal turnaround time is 24 hours (or less). 


Ways to Help Yourself 

Reading for Contexts, Backgrounds and Perspectives


NCSL 50-State Searchable Bill Tracking Databases
Searchable state-level legislative tracking databases

A collection of tools that make it possible for citizens to track what is happening in their state's capitol by aggregating information from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Using the site is simple: enter a U.S. address or select a state to start to research bills, review voting records, contact elected officials and more.










News sources provide an obvious way to track the rise of candidates into political prominence, trace coverage of campaigns, elections, and issues, and find out how they fare in the court of public opinion.  Editorial opinions/candidate endorsements and, of course, published interviews with candidates, their supporters and/or opponents or transcripts of these conversations can also be revealing. Good databases for information of this kind include:

Nexis Uni

It covers more than 3000 newspapers from around the globe, most in English (or English translation). Coverage varies by title but usually dates from the 1980s forward. Nexis Uni is also good for searching  transcripts of major TV  and radio news broadcasts (including BBC and NPR). 

TIP: This database does not include contents of the Boston Globe or WSJ. See Factiva, below, for access to these titles, if you need them.)


Produced by the Dow Jones company, Factiva contains content from more than 200 countries (and in 28 languages, though English predominates). Material is drawn from newspapers, news sites, newswires, TV and radio transcripts.  Full-text coverage varies by title, but is generally better from 1980 forward. Factiva's major competitor is Nexis Uni.


By default, Factiva searches only the most recent three months.  Change the time frame if you need to.

By default, Factiva returns results in reverse chronological order (most recent item first). Resort by relevance if you need to.

It covers more than 3000 newspapers from around the globe, most in English (or English translation). Coverage varies by title but usually dates from the 1980s forward. Nexis Uni is also good for searching  transcripts of major TV  and radio news broadcasts (including BBC and NPR). 

TIP: This database does not include contents of the Boston Globe or WSJ. See Factiva, below, for access to these titles, if you need them.)

Governing: The Future of States and Localities provides news, analysis and insights for the professionals leading America’s states and localities.

Think Tank Search: A Google Custom Search of more than 1200 think tanks and research centers which is part of a research guide created by librarians at the Harvard Kennedy School Library. 

A  nationally recognized, leading source of scholarly research and current data about American women’s political participation and under-representation in political leadership. The Center for American Women and Politics is housed at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.

Sections of CAWP worth exploring include: 

  • Research Inventory of current and past research in the field of women and American politics aims to identify strategies that can be used to elect more women and to determine whether there are important research questions yet to be addressed. 

Barbara Lee Family Foundation

The Barbara Lee Family Foundation advances women’s equality and representation in American politics (as well as in contemporary art).

The Foundation has studied and published research about every woman’s gubernatorial race since 1998. Through strategic partnerships and capacity building via grants and endowments, the Foundation also aims to help women gain essential knowledge and tools to meet the challenges of campaigning, including best practices for ads.

Women's Legislative Network

Part of the National Council of State Legislatures, the WLN is a professional development organization to which every female state legislator in the 50 states, United States territories, and the District of Columbia. The mission of the Women's Legislative Network is to promote the participation, empowerment, and leadership of women legislators.

The site includes a state suffrage history timeline, current and historical statistical snapshots of women legislators by state, a state-level directory of women's caucuses, commissions, and committees, and other information.

 Gender Parity Index from Represent Women

Overview, comparative/longitudinal data, and statistical snapshots of each state.

The Path to Parity Reader

A project of the nonpartisan Parity Project, dedicated to changing the face of U.S. politics, this free publication compiles and distils research on women candidates and elected officeholders. 

Gender Watch 2018

Not to be confused with a Harvard Library research database that's similarly named, this website was joint project of the CAWP and Barbara Lee Family Foundation during the 2018 midterms. It aimed to monitor and analyze the numbers, successes, and strategies of women candidates. While no longer updated,it Includes a research bibliography of books and articles, as well as some multimedia, graphics, and candidate lists.


Vote Smart 

Produced and maintained by citizen labor (conservative and liberal), Vote Smart's stated mission is to provide free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to all Americans. Volunteers research and compile information on the backgrounds and records of thousands of political candidates and elected officials to discover their voting records, campaign contributions, biographical data (including their work history) and evaluations of them generated by over 400 national and 1300 state special interest groups.

Often, you can also find transcripts of speeches and public statements on issues. 

Emily's List

This national resource for women in politics was created by Ellen R. Malcolm in 1985 to fund campaigns for pro-choice Democratic women, and strategically change the balance of power in our government. (The name “EMILY's List” was an acronym for "Early Money Is Like Yeast" [i.e., it makes the dough rise]. The saying is a reference to a convention of political fundraising that receiving major donations early in a race is helpful in attracting other, later donors.) A source of information on female candidates at the local, state, and federal level endorsed by the organization.

Congressional Directory, 1996-present

Short biographies of members, listed by state or district, together with the the member's dates of service, committee memberships, staff assistants, contact information. 

Women in Congress (Office of the Historian, US House of Representatives) 

Brief biographical sketches of all current and former women members, with bibliographical references and (when appropriate) information on manuscript collections. Also provides a detailed set of historical essays on women senators and representatives over the alst 100 years.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: the Introductory chapter, "Women in Congress" has both a section on historiography (which might help you discover some fo the significant scholarly work already done on the topic, broadly) and on the process of researching (which might help you identify sites for some important primary source exploration).

A project of the Center for Responsive Politics, Open Secrets is the most comprehensive resource  available for federal campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis.  It includes a Donor Lookup database, ways of discovering election spending figures on the presidential and congressional levels (including some historical data), and more. Its Reports page contains several gender-themed studies.

Follow the Money

The National Institute on Money in Politics collects reports submitted to agencies in every state by all candidates for statewide office, the legislature, and state Supreme Court; major political party committees; ballot measure committees; independent spending; and lobbying expenditures.  The data is made freely available via Follow the Money, along with reports and analysis.

Helpful Services & Tools