What is a database?

database is a collection of resources which have been collected together because they relate to a certain area of knowledge. 

Some databases will be full-text databases, and will provide access to the actual resources themselves. Other databases are bibliographic databases and only provide the citation references for resources. There can be several reasons for this, ranging from the intended purpose of the database to copyright restrictions.

A bibliography is a collection of citation references for resources. They are arranged by a single feature, such as by author or title.

An annotated bibliography is a collection of citation references which have annotations. An annotation is a brief review of a resource's subject matter and usefulness.

An abstract is a concise summary of the content of a resource.

A reference or citation is a description of a resource which enables it to be located. It most often includes the following information: creator, title, date, version, publisher, and format. Citations are standardized using different style manuals, like Harvard, Chicago, MLA, MHRA, and APA, to ensure that the necessary information is captured and to make it easier to organize and retrieve information.

An index is, in its most basic form, a list which provides access to the content within a resource. In a back-of-book index, it is a list of keywords or concepts found within the resource and location information as to where in the resource those words or concepts can be found. For a database, an index is a set of preferred vocabulary keywords under which resources can be found. Looking at the index or thesaurus for a database can be helpful in knowing which search terms to use to find information on a given topic. Information about the index can sometimes be found on the main search page of a database, somewhere near the search engine box.

bibliographic index is a bibliography which is organized according to a list of keywords or concepts.

Resources at Harvard


DASH is a central, open-access repository of research by members of the Harvard community.

Databases, Bibliographies & Indices of Folklore Materials

There are a number of databases which contain materials relevant to research in Folklore Studies. Some of these databases are general collections of scholarship. Some are collections of materials from a single repository or related materials from multiple repositories. Some of these databases are collections of data gathered from research projects. Some are digitized collections of texts. All are intended to bring together related materials and to make them accessible. 


JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization with a dual mission to create and maintain a trusted archive of important scholarly journals, and to provide access to these journals as widely as possible. Content in JSTOR spans many disciplines, primarily in the humanities and social sciences. It includes approximately 17 folklore journals, all in full-text format. Simply check the "folklore" box near the bottom of the Advanced Search form. Coverage for each journal goes from volume one to within circa five years of the most recent issue. These journals are also indexed by the MLA International Bibliography, with coverage beginning later than JSTOR’s but continuing through the present.

Project Muse

Full-text versions of peer-reviewed journals from many of the world's leading university presses and scholarly societies, as well as thousands of ebooks, with emphasis on humanities and social sciences. Subscription access to journals are made available to libraries in six collections: Premium Collection - Standard Collection - Basic Research Collection - Basic College Collection - Humanities Collection - Social Sciences Collection.

MLA International Bibliography

The MLA International Bibliography, produced by the Modern Language Association, consists of bibliographic records pertaining to literature, language, linguistics, and folklore, and includes coverage from 1963 to the present. The MLA International Bibliography provides access to scholarly research in over 3,000 journals and series. It also covers relevant monographs, working papers, proceedings, bibliographies, and other formats.

Anthropology Plus

Anthropology Plus combines Anthropological Literature from Harvard University and the Anthropological Index Online, Royal Anthropological Institute from the UK. Anthropology Plus provides worldwide indexing of journal articles, reports, commentaries, edited works, and obituaries in the fields of social, cultural, physical, biological, and linguistic anthropology, ethnology, archaeology, folklore, material culture, and interdisciplinary studies. The index offers coverage of all core periodicals in the field in addition to local and lesser-known journals. Coverage is from the late 19th century to the present.

Web of Science: Arts and Humanities Citation Index

Indexes periodical articles in the arts and humanities from 1975 to the present. Using this index, it is possible to search the cited reference lists, or bibliographies, of articles and to explore connections among various articles and authors. 

International Medieval Bibliography

The International Medieval Bibliography is a comprehensive, current bibliography of journal articles, essay collections and conference proceedings in this interdisciplinary field. Disciplines covered include Classics, English Language and Literature, History and Archaeology, Theology and Philosophy, Medieval European Languages and Literatures, Arabic and Islamic Studies, History of Education, Art History, Music, Theatre and Performance Arts, Rhetoric and Communication Studies. Dates covered range from 400 to 1500 A.D., and geographic coverage includes Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. The database allows users also to search the Bibliographie de Civilisation Médiévale, an index of over 40,000 books and 64,000 book reviews on medieval topics since 1957.

Garland Folklore Bibliographies

Garland Folklore Bibliographies is a sub-series of the Garland Reference Library of the Humanities series, and includes annotated bibliographies on different areas of folklore, for example, Jewish folklore, Irish holy wells, or Scandinavian mythology.

Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts (Folktexts)

This site is provided by retired professor D.L. Ashliman and hosted at the University of Pittsburgh. This website is enormously helpful to students studying tales. It has a large number of tales in full-text, with notes and the citation for the source of the text. Furthermore, tales are arranged according to ATU tale-types so students can easily locate similar tales, and have access to their texts.

Ethnic Diversity Source

Contains peer-reviewed journals, magazines, e-books, biographies, and primary source documents related to the culture, traditions, social treatment and lived experiences of different ethnic groups in America and beyond. 

eHRAF World Cultures

This database contains background information on different ethnic graoups, as well as many ethnographies and other books and articles.To find ethnographies first select "Browse Cultures." Locate the group you are interested in and then click Collection Documents to view works (including ethnographies) about that group.

Folklore Collection Database

This database is a project led by The American Folklore Society to digitize collections of archival folklore materials to allow access to them. 

Traditional Ballad Index

This database is an annotated bibliography of folk songs found in English-speaking parts of the world. 

Documenting the American South

Documenting the American South (DocSouth) is a digital publishing initiative sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that provides Internet access to texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture. Currently DocSouth includes sixteen thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews, and songs.

America: History and Life

America: History and Life is the primary bibliographic reference to the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present, covering over 2,000 journals published worldwide.

ARTbibliographies Modern

contains abstracts of journal articles, books, essays, exhibition catalogs, dissertations, and exhibition reviews, from artists and movements beginning with Impressionism in the late 19th century, up to the most recent works and trends in the late 20th century, with earlier coverage of photography and emphasis on new and lesser-known artists and on the coverage of foreign-language literature. Includes crafts.

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature includes citations, abstracts, and subject indexing for articles about music in over 10,000 journals.


WorldCat is a database of catalog entries from more than 9,000 member institutions. With millions of online records built from the bibliographic and ownership information of contributing libraries, it is the largest and most comprehensive database of its kind. The database contains records of any type of material (books, periodicals, scores, films, recordings, etc.) cataloged by over 41,000 OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) member libraries, primarily but not exclusively, from libraries in the United States, but extending to 82 other nations. There are more than 47 million records in the database. This database can be used to verify citations of resources, to find a local holding library, or to provide accurate citations for interlibrary loan requests. Records also contain bibliographic information such as tables of contents, cover art, book summaries, and notes about authors.