Introduction to American Studies (AAMR 125)

Prof. T. Heed

  February 2, 2007

Guide for finding sources at the George T. Potter Library
Leigh Keller


 I. Library Homepage

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

II. Finding Books at the Potter Library

  • Catalog: use this to find books, journal titles NOT ARTICLES, government documents, 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.
  • Search the catalog using Keywords to find material
    • For example: search for working class women to locate a broad range of material and look for ideas for your project


    Search the catalog using Subject Browse feature ONLY if you know the Library of Congress Subject Headings

  • For example:
    • New Towns--United States

      Suburbs--United States


    1. Start with broad searches. It is much easier to discard too much rather than start with too little.
    2. If you don't know the Subject Heading, use the Related Records tab located on the top of a catalog record to get to the headings. This will help you focus in on more relevant material.
    3. Can "virtually" browse the shelves by clicking on the call number in a record.

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III. Reference Material

  • The reference stacks are located on the 3rd floor (this is also the library's entrance).
  • Some useful materials for your projects:
  • American Decades Primary Sources Ref E169.1 .A47 1997
    Encyclopedia of American Studies Ref E169.1.E625
    Annals of America Ref E173.A793
    Ammerican Immigrant Culture Ref E184.A1.A63448
    St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture Ref E169.1.S764


  1. Use reference books to browse for project ideas and to get started on your research.
  2. Use the Bibliographies at the end of encyclopedia entries to find more information on your topic.

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IV. Electronic Resources

JSTOR Comprised of the full-text of more than 500 academic journals.
America: History and Life History of the United States and Canada from pre-history to the present. Links to JSTOR full-text and use Primary Catalog link to search our library holdings.
Historical NY Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal full-text of the entire NY Times from 1851-2002
Gale Virtual Reference Library Searchable, full-text of over 14 reference books.
Academic Search Premier A multidisciplinary database that contains many full-text articles. May also limit to scholary (peer-reviewed) journals.

(Scholarly/Peer Reviewed/Refereed articles have been reviewed by a selected panel of experts in the discipline covered by that journal).


  1. Always switch to the Advance Search page in a database. This will give you more control over your results.
  2. Always use Boolean Operators-AND, OR, NOT when running a search. For Example: suburbs and "united states" and culture
  3. Always check your Spelling if the database results are Zero.


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V. Interlibrary Loan

Both of these links can be found under QUICK LINKS on the library's homepage.

  • Interlibrary Loan: allows students to borrow a book or article that the Potter library does not own. There is a link from the Journal Finder page.
  • Journal Finder: this provides information regarding if a journal is available full-text online, in print in the library, or available on microfilm.

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VI. Bibliographies

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VII. Web Sources

Some useful sites:

American Memory: American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning.

PBS: American Experience: American Experience and many other PBS programs are great sources of information.

American Studies at the University of Virginia: Great source of different types of material-comic strips, e-text, etc.

Google Video: Search thousands of TV shows, videos, movies, and more.

YouTube: More videos!

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

Use QandA NJ a 24/7 virtual chat with a reference librarian.