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English: Searching


Searching for Sources

One of the most important and overwhelming parts of the research process is knowing where to search and how to find the best sources relevant to your topic. Whether you are looking for a book in the library stacks, an article from an online journal, or a unique item in an archive, this page highlights the best places to start searching.


Library Website

The best place to start searching—NUsearch—can be found front and center on the library website. When you search with NUsearch, you are browsing the library's collection of books, journals, newspapers, films, albums, images, and more. You can begin with a simple search or use the advanced search functions. NUsearch will also help you find where an item is located in the library or online, provide you a citation for your source, and more.

Note: For finding books at other libraries, please search


Scholarly Databases

In addition to the physical materials in the library, you have access to many scholarly and primary source databases that will be vital to your research and writing. Especially if you are looking for peer-reviewed articles, below are the databases I recommend beginning with. To see all of the databases relevant to English, please visit Databases A-Z.

  • MLA International Bibliography
    Find articles and books in the fields of literature, language, and linguistics in the modern languages, as well as folklore, film studies, literary theory & criticism, dramatic arts, and historical aspects of printing and publishing.

    Digitized, full-text versions of core scholarly journals across many humanities disciplines.

  • Project MUSE
    Provides the full text of several hundred journals and thousands of eBooks from a variety of academic publishers. Content is current with some historical coverage.

  • HathiTrust
    A not-for-profit collaborative of academic and research libraries preserving 17+ million digitized items.

  • Literature Resource Center
    Biographies, bibliographies and analysis of over 115,000 authors.

  • LitFinder
    Spans history and geography to offer nearly 150,000 poems, short stories, essays, speeches and plays representing the work of more than 80,000 authors.

  • Humanities International Index
    Provides indexing for more than 2,300 magazines and journals, including many little magazines, and access to original creative works including poems, fiction, photographs, paintings, and illustrations.

  • Annual Bibliography of English Language & Literature (ABELL)
    Includes more than 700,000 bibliographic records in English and other European languages comprising scholarship on the English language, literature, bibliography, and traditional culture of the English-speaking world.

  • Periodicals Index Online
    A database of table-of-contents information for thousands of journals published in the arts, humanities and social sciences, from the 1770s to 2005, in English and other Western European languages.

  • ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global
    Offers comprehensive listings for U.S. doctoral dissertations back to 1861, with extensive coverage of dissertations from many non-U.S. institutions.


Reference Sources


Historical Newspapers
Newspapers can be a great place to find literature, poetry, reviews, and primary source content and historical context for literary studies. To see all of the historical newspaper databases the library subscribes to, click here.


Archives & Special Collections
Northwestern is home to several renowned archival collections all of which are available for faculty and students to use and ideal for working with rare and unique sources, from medieval manuscripts to contemporary artist books.

  • McCormick Library of Special Collections and University Archives
    Home to many of the Libraries' rarest materials, including manuscripts, archives, prints, artifacts, and all materials pertaining to Northwestern's history. The McCormick Library's holdings are non-circulating and are open to the public for research and reference.

  • ArchiveGrid
    Includes over 5 million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. With over 1,000 different archival institutions represented, ArchiveGrid helps researchers looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies.


Images & Digital Collections

  • Northwestern Digital Collections
    Contains thousands of items from Northwestern University Libraries. While only a fraction of materials from the Libraries' collections are represented, the site is representative of the distinction and diversity of its various collections.
  • Digital Public Library of America
    Connects people to the riches held within America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. All of the materials found through DPLA—photographs, books, maps, news footage, oral histories, personal letters, museum objects, artwork, government documents, and so much more—are free and immediately available in digital format.
  • Internet Archive
    A non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.

English & Digital Humanities Librarian

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Josh Honn
University Library, 2 East, Suite 2699A
(847) 467-4761
Subjects: English