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Social Sciences E-100B (Shoemaker)



This resource guide has been designed for students Professor Stephen Shoemaker'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 on your immigration-related projects.

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

Image, above: undocumented college student Jorge Herrera of Carson, Calif., at a Dec. 18, 2010, rally in Los Angeles.  AP Photo.

HOLLIS: Discovering Harvard's Collections



HOLLIS  combines the extensive contents of our library catalog, HOLLIS,  with those of another, large and multidisciplinary database of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles. 





  • use quotation marks for phrases:  "mexican american"   ||  "united states"

  •  connect search terms and phrases explicitly with AND/OR and do so with capital letters:  

norwegian AND immigration AND wisconsin

  •  indicate synonyms or interchangeable concepts by enclosing them in  parentheses:

(native OR black) AND seminole AND oklahoma

  • truncate words to pick up alternatives:  politic*  will also retrieve "political," "politics," "politician," "politically" (and so on)

  • use the right side limit categories to sharpen up and whittle down your search results by date, language, resource type, and more.

take advantage of special system features: always sign in.

  • store the items you want to track down or read later via the     icon; save a good search so you can remember what worked.

Image above: Harvard Social Museum Collection, Settlement House, Philadelphia, c.1903.  Harvard Museums.  Available in HOLLIS. Click to enlarge



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

2.  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!

3. 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). 

4. 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.




Though this isn't always the best research strategy, you can limit your HOLLIS catalog searches to ONLINE books​  

Alternatively, there are a couple of excellent full-text collections that you can access via Harvard: 

Project Muse e-books launched in 2012, provides thousands of peer-reviewed digital books from over 65 major university presses and scholarly publishers.  


University Press Scholarship Online (USPO) is a database created, maintained, and regularly updated by Oxford University Press.  It brings together in one convenient place, 23,000+  book-length studies, published by 23 of the most prestigious U.S. and U.K. academic presses.  Material can be searched broadly or limited to one of the 31 subject modules.

Books which are not "unlocked" will have detailed chapter-by-chapter descriptions. 

Contexts and Backgrounds


The Making of Modern Immigration: An Encyclopedia of People and Ideas

This encyclopedia addresses the major historical themes and contemporary research trends related to U.S. immigration, canvassing all the major policy endeavors on immigration in the last two centuries. In addition to documenting immigration policy, the contributors devote extensive attention to the historiography of immigration, supplementing theories with cutting-edge sociological data.



The Oxford Handbook of American Immigration and Ethnicity

This handbook brings together twenty-nine leading scholars in the field to make sense of all the themes, methodologies, and trends that characterize the debate on American immigration. They examine a wide range of topics, including panethnicity, whiteness, intermarriage, bilingualism, religion, museum ethnic displays, naturalization, regional mobility, immigration legislation and its reception, ethnicity-related crime and gang formation, and the forms of communication with the homeland. The Oxford Handbook of American Immigration and Ethnicity focuses on the cutting-edge issues and questions of the field. What are scholars studying, how has the field diverged from earlier works, and where is the field heading.

The Oxford Bibliographies Online combine the best features of the annotated bibliography with an authoritative subject encyclopedia.

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.
of the most important and influential scholarship on a broad topic (mass incarceration, bilingual education, outcomes of social movements and protest activities, social stratification, and so forth).

OBO updates quarterly, to keep material current.

Subject Databases: Scholarship Beyond HOLLIS and Google Scholar

Harvard Library's extensive collection of e-resources can be browsed by clicking on the DATABASES tab at the top of this guide (and at the top of all library main pages).

To make your initial efforts at exploration more focused and less overwhelming, we've identified some of the "gold standards" in the research areas you've identified. 

  • Academic Search Premiermultidisciplinary; current; mix of news, magazines, scholarly journals
  • JStormultidisciplinary mix of key scholarly journals; usually has an embargo on the most recent 1-3 years
  • America: History and Lifefocuses exclusively on scholarship about the U.S. and Canada, prehistory to present
  • Ethnic NewsWatch: includes key journals on ethnicities and ethnic studies, together with news and magazines produced by native and minority presses
  • Race Relations Abstracts: covers essential areas related to this topic, including ethnic studies, discrimination, and immigration studies.


Uncovering Primary Sources



Search across the contents of major U.S. dailies, including the New York Times, Washington PostLos Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, St. Louis Post and Dispatch, and the Wall Street Journal. 

Search across the contents of 130 ethnic newspapers published in the U.S. in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries. Created in partnership with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Created in cooperation with the University of Houston, this new digital resource represents the single largest compilation of Spanish-language newspapers printed in the U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries. The distinctive collection features hundreds of titles, including many published bilingually in Spanish and English.

A database of close to 15,000 newspapers, mainly from the U.S., many on the local level.  The database is offered in partnership with

A database that allows you to broadly search the contents of state, local, and regional newspapers from 1607 through the 20th century. Smaller news outlets sometimes give a different perspective than major dailies and sometimes a fuller treatment of isses "close to home."


Though not everything you find will be in full-text, RGR allows you to canvass popular and general interest magazines across a 90 year span. 

D​igitized images of the pages of American magazines and journals published from colonial days to the dawn of the 20th century. Titles range from Benjamin Franklin's General Magazine to America's first scientific journal, Medical Repository; the collection includes popular magazines such as Vanity Fair and Ladies' Home Journal; regional and niche publications; and more.



Ancestry Library Edition

Extensive collection of vital records, directories, censuses, military records, and other material from the United States and Canada, intended for genealogical research. Also includes fully-indexed, full-text images of United States federal census returns, 1790-1940.

Immigration Records of the INS,1880-1930 (ProQuest History Vault)

Includes the investigations made during the massive immigration wave at the turn of the 20th century. The files cover Asian immigration, especially Japanese and Chinese migration, to California, Hawaii, and other states; Mexican immigration to the U.S. from 1906-1930; and European immigration.

ProQuest Congressional

A source for legislation, hearings, witness testimony, reports, and more. 

U.S. Serial Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1994

The U.S. Congressional Serial Set is an incomparably rich, yet in the past a largely untapped collection of primary source material detailing all aspects of American history. has proven invaluable to the research of U.S. political, social, cultural, military and ethnic history, as well as international relations, exploration expeditions across the country and throughout the world, genealogy, commerce, industrial development and much more. Its contents come not only from the U.S. Congress, but also include key Executive Department publications and publication series.


Voices from Ellis Island: An Oral HIstory of American Immigration (ProQuest History Vault)

Transcripts of lengthy interviews, conducted with 185 individuals who either immigrated through, or worked at, Ellis Island during the peak of mass migration to the United States. The National Park Service produced these oral histories, in cooperation with the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, during 1984-1985. Themes include, among other things, leaving ones home country, assimilation, life on/experience at Ellis island.  This database is also included in Immigration Records of the INS, 1880-1930.

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 

Approximately 2,900 documents, compiled and transcribed by more than 300 writers from 24 states, working on the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program that was part of the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936 to 1940. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents vary in form from narratives to dialogues to reports to case histories. They chronicle vivid life stories of Americans who lived at the turn of the century, and include many immigrant narratives.

North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories

A collection of approximately 100,000 pages of information,  providing a unique and personal view of what it meant to immigrate to America and Canada between 1800 and 1950

Immigrations, Migrations, and Refugees: Global Perspectives 1941-1996

Translated radio and television broadcasts, newspapers, periodicals, government documents and books providing global insight on immigration in the mid-to-late 20th century. The materials were collected by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS)—a government agency which became part of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1947-- and disseminated among government officials and decision makers. The reports begin with the refugee flows during World War II and cover all crises through 1996.  No U.S. newspapers or broadcasts are included in this database.

American Indian Histories and Culture​​​

A collection that documents interactions between American Indians and Europeans from their earliest contact, through the American Civil War, the on-going repercussions of government legislation, and up to the civil rights movement of the mid- to late-twentieth century


Remember that our catalog is old -- in the best sense of the word. You'll find a treasure trove of primary source documents there from all periods, in all languages, and from most parts of the world. Some tips:



One easy way to find texts and other items that are roughly contemporaneous with your course readings is to modify a HOLLIS search you've run, using the date limiters that appear on the right hand side of the screen.


Adding the word "sources" to a keyword search can be useful to find republished collections ofprimary sources. "Reader," "anthology," "documents" or "documentary" also can work well. 



Instead of adding a general word like "sources," run your keyword search in HOLLIS.  Then look for the Form/Genre filter on the left side of the results screen. 

It's here you'll often find the richest variety of primarysources. Form/genre is commonly where you'll see primary sources of these types: correspondence (the official way of describing letters; diaries; exhibitions; speeches; memoirs; notebooks; personal narratives; pictorial works (a traditional way of identifying a collection of images); photographs.


Manuscripts that are held by Harvard libraries, like Houghton, will usually have an online finding aid linked to their HOLLIS records. Finding aids are detailed item-by-item descriptions of everything in a particular collection. Typically, finding aids will also provide contextual information, like biography, scope/content notes, preferred citation methods, etc. Finding aid URLs appear below the title in a HOLLIS manuscript record. 


​Remember that the secondary sources you find  (scholarly journals and books) will themselves be built on primary source materials.  Scour the bibliographies and footnotes; if the documents exist in published form (rather than being unique to an archive you may not have access to), consider tracking them down at Harvard (if you're close to Cambridge) or (if you're not) at a library near you. 


Tools for Locating Full-Text and Managing Your Sources


Google Scholar Settings: 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.  

If you've used NoodleTools or EasyBib in a past academic life -- or even if you've figured out the the pin and cite options in HOLLIS -- Zotero will take you to a whole new level. 

This free, open source citation management tool makes the process of collecting and organizing citations, incorporating them into your paper, and creating a bibliography or works cited page stress-free and nearly effortless.

It's worth the small investment of time to learn Zotero. A good guide, produced by Harvard librarians, is available here: