Skip to Main Content

African American Art: Search Techniques

This research guide highlights African American artists from the 18th century to today, while also addressing issues of race and identity in the art world.

How to Find Journal Articles

When you search for a topic in our databases sometimes the article will be available as full-text.

If the article is not available as full text, you will get a list of citations. These citations usually refer to articles appearing in journals, magazines and newspapers. Note the information in the citation (author, title, journal title, volume, date, page numbers). 

Then, check our Catalog to see whether we have the journal either in our stacks or through a different online source.

If we do not subscribe to the journal where your article appears, you can use our Interlibrary Loan Service to request a copy of the article you need.

Peer-Reviewed Journals

Peer-reviewed journals, also known as Refereed journals or scholarly journals, are journals with articles that have been critically evaluated and approved by several scholars (reviewers with expertise in the subject of the article) before inclusion in a journal. 

Peer reviews lend credibility to the article because the process confirms the reliability of the data and the findings of the research.

To verify that a journal is peer-reviewed check Ulrich's Periodical Directory

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators allow you to combine your keywords to create a search that the databases can use to retrieve the results you need. The words AND, OR are the most commonly used Boolean operators. The third is NOT, which can be difficult to use because it might exclude useful results.

AND combines your search terms and looks for them together in search result. Example: A search for Jean-Michel Basquiat AND William Edmondson will retrieve records that have both keywords: Jean-Michel Basquiat and William Edmondson.

OR separates your search terms, finding records that contain either keyword. Example: A search for Jean-Michel Basquiat OR William Edmondson will retrieve records all the records that contain either of the search terms as well as records with both of the search terms.

NOT finds records that only have the first keyword, but will exclude records that have both keywords or just the second keyword. A search for Jean-Michel Basquiat NOT William Edmondson will find records only containing Jean-Michel Basquiat and will exclude records that also include William Edmondson or are only about him. This boolean operator is only useful when you want to exclude a topic that is often associated with your first keyword. For example, if you wanted articles about Jean-Michel Basquiat's paintings excluding the Dustheads, the search: Jean-Michel Basquiat  NOT Dustheads. Just remember that this type of search is very narrow and might exclude records that also include information on your topic.

Browsing the shelves

Want to quickly scan the shelves in Copley Library's Mother Hill Reading Room for books on African American art?  Try looking in the following call number locations:

N6538 .N5 ... (African American art)

N8232 ... (African Americans portrayed in art)