Human Rights in Latin America

HIST 387

Prof. C. Carreras
Guide for finding sources at the George T. Potter Library


January 30, 2009

Susan B. Kurzmann

 I. Library Homepage:

  • Provides access to the catalog (OPAC), databases, interlibrary loan forms, etc.

II. Find Books

Catalog: use this to find books, periodical titles (NOT articles), reserve items, music,and movies owned by the Library. You may limit a search by language, year(s) of publication, type of material, etc. This may take a few seconds to load.

  • Use the Basic Search to find material using Keywords

For example: search for human rights or human rights and chile to locate a broad range of materials the library has on these keywords.

  • Use quotation marks around a multi-word phrase so that the system will treat it as a single term, i.e., "public policy". When you find an appropriate title, click on the Subjects, etc. tab located at the top of the catalog record to see which Library of Congress subject headings are discussed in that particular book/DVD/periodical

    Limit search to Online Material (one of the Quick limits) or to Documents Without Shelves to access government documents online

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  • Search the catalog using Subject Browse feature if you know the relevant Library of Congress subject heading, for example:

    Human rights--Latin America

    *also see breakdown by individual country

    [Name of country]--Politics and government

    • On the subject headings screen:
      • Click on for the scope note for that subject heading

      e.g., Scope Notes for: Human rights

      Scope Notes

      Note: Here are entered works on the rights of persons regardless of their legal, socioeconomic or cultural status and as recognized by the international community. Works on citizens' rights as established by law and protected by constitution are entered underCivil rights.
      Note: Some works on human rights cataloged before 1987 may be found under Civil rights.
      • Click on to see more information about the term you've entered, such as recommended narrower or broader terms.

        For example, if you enter: Argentina--History--1910-

      The catalog will direct you to:



  • Go to Advanced Search

The Boolean search terms are built in for your use:

AND: you're directing the system to search for material on both terms you've entered

OR: you're directing the system to search for meaterial on either of the search terms you have entered

NOT: you're directing the system to search for material on the first term you have entered and to exclude any material on the second term you have entered

The catalog system will provide more focused results


  1. Try our tutorial: Finding Books
  2. Start with broad searches. It's much easier to discard too much rather than start with too little.
  3. If you don't know the Subject Heading, use the Subjects, etc. tab located on the top of a catalog record to get to the headings. This will help you focus in on more relevant material.
  4. You can "virtually" browse the shelves by clicking on the call number in a record.

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IV. Reference Material

The reference stacks are located on the 3rd floor (this is also the library's entrance).

Some useful materials for your projects: 

Latin America
Cambridge Encyclopedia of Latin America Ref F1410 .C1834 1984
*Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture Ref F1406 .E53 1996
The Europa World Year Book

Ready Reference


G. K. Hall Bibliographic Guide to Latin American Studies Ref F1408.Z99 B474
Handbook of Latin American Studies

Print copy:  Ref Z1605.H23

Historical Dictionary  o U.S.-Latin American Relations Ref F1418.F457 2005
Latin America and the Caribbean: A Critical Guide to Research Sources Ref F1408.Z99L35

The Latin American Historical Dictionaries series: Historical Dictionary of…(Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, etc.)

Various call numbers
Human Rights
A Dictionary of Human Rights Ref K3239.3.R67 1997
A Handbook of International Human Rights Terminology

Ref K3239.3.C66 1999

Human Rights Ref K3240 .H846 1999
Human Rights: International Documents Ref K3240.J6
The Human Rights Encyclopedia Ref JC571.L523 2001
Human Rights Violations Ref JC571.H783 2003
International Human Rights Law: An Introduction Ref K3240.W45 2007

The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations

      Part 6: Human Rights

Ref JZ4970.O93 2007
Yearbook of the United Nations Ref JA51.U5


  1. Use reference books to browse for project ideas and to get started on your research
  2. Use the bibliographies at the end of articles, books, encyclopedias, and dictionaries to locate more material on your topic

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V. Find Articles (Databases)

Find citations, abstracts, and/or full-text articles in periodicals (journals, newspapers, and magazines). In the databases which provide only citations or abstracts, click on the "check availability at Ramapo" link (terminology varies) to see whether we have access to the full text in print or through one of our other databases.

Some useful Databases for your projects:

JSTOR Complete

Full text of more than 500 academic journals

Historical Abstracts


America: History & Life

Includes abstracts of articles and reviews in scholarly publications.

TIP: If only an abstract is listed, click on the Check availability at Ramapo link to see if the full text of the article is available through our library.

Academic Search Premier

Multidisciplinary database that contains many full-text articles and citations.

TIP: When only a citation/abstract is listed, click on the Check availability at Ramapo link to see if the full text of the article is available in our collection in print or through another database.

See also:

Covers top news, general news topics, news transcripts, foreign language news sources, and legal news.

*Completely full-text.

The Historical New York Times Full text of The New York Times from 1851 through 2003
Ethnic NewsWatch

A comprehensive full text database of the newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press

Scholarly/Peer Reviewed/Refereed articles have been reviewed by a selected panel of experts in the discipline covered by that journal. Many of the databases allow you to limit your search to these articles.


  1. Switch to the Advanced Search page in a database. This will give you more control over your results.Use Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) and Quotation Marks when running a search. For Example: democracy or "political science"and "human rights" Always check your Spelling if the database results are zero.
  2. Use the Subject Terms or Thesaurus link, if available, to find the best terms to use in a database.

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VI.  Interlibrary Loan and Journal Finder

  • Interlibrary Loan: allows you to borrow a book or article that the George T. Potter library does not own. There is also a link from the Journal Finder page.
    • Find this link under Quick Links on the library's homepage
  • Journal Finder: locate the full text of articles in specific periodicalss (journals, newspapers, magazines)to which we have access either in our print or microform collection or through a full-text database.
    • Find this link under Quick Links on the library's homepage
    • Useful journals for your research to which we provide access via a database and/or print copies:
      • NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America) Report on the Americas) (Latin American Research Review)
      • (Latin American Perspectives)
    • If you search for a journal to which we don't provide access, you will find a link to an Interlibrary Loan Request form for an article.

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VII. Preparing Bibliographies

  • Citing Sources (Duke University) for examples of APA, ASA, Chicago, MLA, and Turabian citation styles
  • The Open Handbook Online ( by Ann Raimes with Maria Jerskey)Style handbooks are also kept on reserve at the Circulation Desk
  • Tip: Always be consistent and follow the examples for the required style format

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VIII. Websites

Library of Congress Country Studies

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Need more help? Visit or call the Reference Desk: 201.684.7574


Use QandA, a 24/7 virtual chat reference service with a reference librarian