Extension School shield veritas books wheat baskets oil lampThis resource guide has been designed for students in Dr. Elise Ciregna's  Extension School graduate proseminar.

The resources and strategies described on this page are specifically targeted: they represent our first best guesses at where you might find easy access to the scholarly and research literature for your projects on cultural heritage.

Remember that good research is often about following up on hunches, testing out a hypothesis and then seeing where else (or to what else) it leads. You may need to try several search combinations before you strike gold. 

Let me know if questions arise at any point in your project. We'll triage by email or set up a time to meet on Zoom for a personal consultation.  

Enjoy your work! 

Sue Gilroy, Research Librarian, Lamont Library

Contexts and Starting Points

Oxford Bibliographies Online

OBOs combine the best features of the annotated bibliography with an authoritative subject encyclopedia. They aim to help you identify some of the most important and influential scholarship on a broad social, political, cultural or interdisciplinary disciplinary topic. They're regularly updated to remain current.

Often the issue in information-seeking isn't scarcity of material but overabundance. OBO entries can help you solve the problem of knowing what or who to read or which voices in the conversation you should give some fuller attention to.

Examples of entries appropriate to course themes include:


lightbulb iconLOCATION TIP

Titles of the books, articles, journals and other materials referenced in an OBO entry should be entered into HOLLIS to determine their availability at Harvard. 




Since 1932,the Annual Reviews series has offered authoritative syntheses of the primary research literature in 46 academic fields, including political sciencesociology, and anthropology.

The comprehensive critical review not only summarizes a topic but also roots out errors of fact or concept and provokes discussion that will lead to new research activity. 

And a search of Annual Reviews can therefore help you easily identify—and contextualize—the principal contributions that have been made in your field.

The advanced search screen  offers excellent search tips, including ways select certain AR titles or limit to particular disciplines and narrow by date.  


  • If you find a review that seems on point, but rather dated (10 years or so), try searching for it (or one of the authorities it cites) in Google Scholar. Then follow the “cited by” links. You  may discover something more recent there. 

  • When you are using a disciplinary specific database, like those listed below, you can often limit your your search (before or after you run it) to a literature review. When that option is available, you'll often find it listed under the document filter (or methodology filter).  Just don't confuse it with book reviews -- that's something else!

  • In the discipline of history, historiography is the term to add to your search to retrieve what are, essentially, literature reviews.


UNESCO: Protecting Our Heritage

Links to  international cultural heritage treaties, and national cultural heritage laws, as well as pages dedicated to such topics as Illicit Traffic of Cultural Properties;  Underwater Cultural Heritage; and  Armed Conflict and Heritage.  A special section, called Museums Under Threat, profiles Iraq and Syria

Image: A damaged museum in Aleppo, Syria. ©UNESCO/Prof. Abdulkarim

Serendipity and Strategy: Searching HOLLIS




1.  Understand what it 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. 


When you search "everything"  searching both of these databases together, at once. For better or for worse, "everything" is our system default. 


2. Know how to work it.

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




3. Take control of your 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).

Experiment with limiting your searches to materials available  
You'll reduce your numbers of books by a wide margin, not often a good strategy, but an expedient one in exigent circumstances.  Learn more about strategies under the Pandemic Considerations tab. 




Your "default" approach to searching Harvard's catalog, HOLLIS, is probably similar to your Google approach: enter some words, see what comes up, then try again or improve from there. 

But BROWSING in the catalog is an under-appreciated research strategy, especially when you're trying to discover your interest. It helps you see how writing ABOUT an author, an idea, an event, etc. has been broken down and categorized. So instead of getting the typical list of titles, you see results in terms of sub-topics. Inspiration may lie there!


Open HOLLIS. Click on the  link above the search box. Then select SUBJECT. 

Examples of subject terms related to course themes:



Browsing subject headings lists can teach you a lot about searching, because they rely on standardized language and standard ways of qualifying or further describing a give subject.  For example, these additional words may relate to a subject's geography (united states, massachusetts, canada, etc), or  the time period that's under discussion in a book (19th century, or 2lst century). Sometimes, a specific marker of the type of information is also included in a subject heading, like statistics; legislation; handbooks; case studies; etc.).


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.


1.  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 and then 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!

2. 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), including e-books and some digitized materials that Harvard may not have.

Public libraries large and small also have access to ebooks, and can be a rich alternative source if Harvard doesn't have what you need or you can't get to our copy.

Moreover, because you are a Harvard student, you're eligible for a BPL ecard, no matter where you're Zooming in from these days; you'll need to sign in with your Harvard email and key to get access, however. See BPL: Who's Eligible for an Ecard? for the registration link.


3. 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. 

5. If you live close by the college or university from which you graduated, ask about ALUMNI PRIVILEGES there; even in COVID times, it's good to check on your options.

Scholarly Research Databases


A database that samples scholarship if fields from anthropology and zoology, and everything in between. When you're not sure where the scholarly conversation is (or if you've exhausted your HOLLIS search options, ASP is probably your next best step.

ASP also provides you with well-calibrated mix of article types (some scholarly, some journalistic, and some drawn from popular general interest magazines, like the the Economist,  the Atlantic, and the New Yorker).

 One of the first, and still the best known of our full-text scholarly databases. JSTOR provides access to the contents of 2600 essential academic journals, in 75 knowledge domains in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.  

Most of the research databases you use through the Harvard Library  search for information differently than Google Scholar.  Most base their results lists on "metadata" -- the descriptive information about items that identifies features  in certain fields (title, author,  table of contents, subject terms, etc.). 

While Google Scholar's algorithms account for some of this same information, it adds full-text into the mix when it retrieves, sorts, and ranks search results.

What does this mean for you? Sometimes, better relevance, especially on the first page or so. 

And sometimes, given that it searches full-text, Google Scholar might reveal more quickly than our databases where a hard-to-find nugget of scholarly information is hidden away in a published article.

Google Scholar can also be a good place to do a "cited reference" search in order to trace scholarly reaction to/engagement a particular article forward in time. 


Cultural Heritage Protection Agencies Online


The International Council of Museums has been publishing its red list since 2000. A Red List is not an inventory of actual stolen objects. The cultural goods on a Red List have all been inventoried. They serve to illustrate the categories of cultural goods most vulnerable to illicit traffic. Red Lists  help individuals, organizations and authorities, such as police or customs officials, identify objects at risk and prevent them from being illegally sold or exported.

A Glasgow-based, interdisciplinary research consortium that aims to understand the illicit global trade in cultural objects, and define an evidence base for effective policy interventions. Researchers combine archeological, artistic, and criminological expertise to promote effective cultural heritage protection.  

As well as being a repository of members' published academic research and a clearinghouse for several ongoing academic projects, Trafficking Culture has created an Encyclopedia, its preliminary source of case studies of the illicit trade in cultural objects. Each entry synthesizes information taken from reliable sources, and presents a bibliography of primary publications to facilitate further research.

The United States Committee of the Blue Shield was formed in 2006, in response to heritage catastrophes around the world. The name, Blue Shield, comes from the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which specifies a blue shield as the symbol for marking protected cultural property. Special features of this site include a Timeline of the History of Protection of Cultural Property and an extensive list of resources (bibliography, news archives, policy, law, and treaties). 





A non-profit established in 1997 to spur restitution  of art work seized, confiscated, or wrongfully taken — on a massive scale — as a result of the policies of the Third Reich and the devastation of the Holocaust.  historical research and educational initiatives, and assists with collecting and publicizing information pertaining to formerly Jewish-owned art collections and persecuted Jewish artists. CAR works for the benefit of both the academic community and the non-specialist audience, to bring clarity as to what was looted and lost, and to commemorate pre-war Jewish collections and artists’ work.

An extensive list of resources is listed under the Databases link. 

Tools for Managing Research


One simple change can turn Google Scholar into what's effectively a Harvard database -- with links to the full-text of articles that the library can provide. Here's what to do:  Look to the left of the GS screen and click on the "hamburger" (); then click on .  Look for "Library Links."  Then type Harvard University into the search box and save your choice.  As long as you allow cookies, the settings will keep.  

Lean Library: a browser plugin that (nearly always) identifies digital availability of items at Harvard and runs automatically as you search books and articles.  


Another option, if you're a Chrome user, is  to set up a Check Harvard Library Bookmark.  Directions are available here: https://library.harvard.edu/services-tools/check-harvard-library-bookmark.

 Zoteroa free, open source citation management tool will take the process of collecting and organizing citations, incorporating them into your paper, and creating a bibliography or works cited page to the next level. 

It's worth the small investment of time to learn Zotero.  A good guide, produced by Harvard librarians, is available here: http://guides.library.harvard.edu/zotero.