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Expos 20 | Society and the Witch

Resources and Research Strategies for Essay 3


This resource guide has been designed for students in Ricky Martin's Spring 2021 Expos course, Society and the Witch. 

The resources and strategies described on this page are specifically targeted: they represent our first best guesses at where you might find the information you'll need to execute Essay 3 successfully.

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. 

Enjoy your research adventure!  

Sue Gilroy, Librarian for Undergraduate Writing Programs, Lamont Library

Serendipity and Strategy: Ways of 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 20years.

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).






HOLLIS will be a key research resource for your Expos essay, no matter where you are working from this term.  That's in part because of the sheer size and enormous variety of what it contains, but also because the content students can surface there is substantial.  

Here are some ways to think through your digital options in HOLLIS:

1. Scan & Deliver

This service, free to Harvard students even before the pandemic, can be a lifesaver when you find something in the catalog that's essential -- but only available in print.

Scan & Deliver allows you to request a PDF of an article that's unavailable digitally or a portion of a book (up to two chapters).  Normally, you'll get the scanned article or chapter(s) within 4 days of submitting your request.  Often, the email linking you to the scan arrives much sooner than that. Use this service liberally. That's what it's there for!

NOTE: Initiate Scan and Deliver requests through HOLLIS.

2. Hathi Trust Temporary Emergency Access Library 

IHathiTrust has a digitized copy, you'll be able to check it out, reserves-style. Presently, loans are given for 1 hour, automatically renewable if there's no waiting list for the item you're using.

HathiTrust materials can't be downloaded or printed out (when they're in copyright), but the upside is that you'll have excellent access to our collection in print, even when you can't use the print. 

Normally, your access to HathiTrust items is seamless via Harvard; when you see the record details, click on the   link to initiate check out.

NOTE: If you go directly into HathiTrust through the link above, be sure you click on the button, top right  and choose Harvard University.

3. Internet Archive Open Library

For books not available online via a HOLLIS link or through HathiTrust, the Open Library may be a good next step. You'll need to create a free account to "check out" books (temporarily, for up to 2 weeks).  

4. Lamont Front Door Pickup (if you're in / near Cambridge)

Materials that are available for checkout are requested online via HOLLIS; they are paged for you by library staff. When they are ready, you receive an email directing you to schedule a pick up time (15-minutes windows, as available)


Academic Search Premier: a Vista beyond HOLLIS

Academic Search Premier:  an excellent database to rummage around in after you've sampled what's available in Articles in HOLLIS.

Academic Search Premier is also multidisciplinary in its coverage, also provides you with a range of article types (some scholarly, some not).

But while still broad, it's a smaller universe than HOLLIS, and depending on your topic, searching in ASP may seem more manageable and targeted, and the results you get will likely be less unwieldy to work with. 


Subject Databases: Tools for Close Looking


While the panoramic or "wide gaze" approach to research can be good ways to help generate an interest or area of exploration,research projects often require you to look close up at a body of research produced by scholars in a particular field.  

This research is typically collected, codified, and made findable in a tool called a subject database.

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. 

Databases are like lenses: they change what you see and how you see it -- and they offer you easy and efficient ways to bring your questions into sharper focus.




ATLA Religion Database: Produced by the American Theological Library Association, this is the premier database for accessing the scholarship published in major religion and theology journals. ATLA will also identify noteworthy books. Witchcraft in general and its sub-types (Santeria, Voodoo/Vodou, e.g.) are, for obvious reasons, well-covered there. 



Anthropology Plus: Considered the most comprehensive database of publications in anthropology and related disciplines issued from the mid-19th century to the present. Books, reports, journal articles, and other types of information are contained here. 

Social, cultural, physical, biological, and linguistic anthropology and archeology are represented.

AnthroSource:  A database that collects, codifies and makes searchable the articles from journals and newsletters produced by the American Anthropological Association, the largest organization of anthropologists in the world. 



Sociology Collection (ProQuest): A database that canvasses broadly the internationa scholarly literature for social policy, society studies, social anthropology, social psychology, and more. 


Left: Mask at an anti-witchcraft ceremony (Ouri, Burkina Faso), 1984.  Photograph by Christopher Roy. Image available via ArtStor



Women's Studies International

Wiccan priest (Getty images) 


America: History and Life: the premier database for historical scholarship in the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. 

Historical Abstracts: the premier database in world history, exclusive of the U.S. and Canada. Scholarship covers the periods from 1450 forward. 


Left: Woodcut featuring Matthew Hopkins, the most famous English witch hunter in the early 17th century. Here, he is featured with two witches calling out the names of their demons (familiars), represented by animals.  Some estimates suggest that between the years 1642 and 1646, Hopkins had more than 200 alleged witches in the East Anglia region tried and executed.  Click to enlarge the image.


MLA International Bibliography:  The most important academic database for deep searching of the scholarship produced about all periods of literature (and in all languages). It also has strong and substantial coverage of scholarship on film, popular culture, folklore,and film.  If a Literature Department teaches it, you'll find it covered here.

 Screen Studies CollectionA comprehensive survey of current publications related to film scholarship, theory, and criticism. This collection includes the specialist index FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals Database, a premier resource for film study globally. 

As in HOLLIS or Academic Search Premier, you can limit your results to peer-reviewed articles.

     Art Full Text






Image: Henry Fuseli, The Night-Hag Visiting Lapland Witches (1796), Metropolitan Museum of Art