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WRI 1100: Hughes, Rebecca: Home

Finding What You Need

For this class, you need to find three types of materials: items written by your author (primary sources), biographies of your author, and contextual material, that is, items that describe the time and place for your author. You can find all three kinds of materials through the library website, but the way you'll search for the items will be a little different, depending on which item you are looking for and your author.

Primary Sources by Your Author

Most authors in this class have written books, or written items that are included in books. Searching the library catalog for books or e-books is going to be a good first step. 

  • Try searching for your author's full name and use the drop down to the left of the field to specify "author."
  • If you know a particular title of something your author wrote, you can search by the title.
  • Note that the work may be part of a larger book (an anthology)


For more recent authors, searching the Internet for their works may be a good strategy.

  • Try putting the title of your author's work into a search engine (like Google) and put quotation marks around it (for example: "A Meditation on the Rights of Women")
  • Add a term like "full text" to help get the entire text of the work, instead of just a mention of it

Biographies of Your Author

To find biographies of your author, search using your author's name and a term like "biography." 

Biographies can be different lengths. You may find good biographical information in a short encyclopedia article, or in a full length book. Both of those kinds of items can be found in the library catalog. Journal articles are less likely to have biographical information, and databases are more likely to give reviews of biographies, not the full biography. So try searching in the library catalog first, and avoid databases unless the catalog doesn't turn up anything. Note that for encyclopedias or other books where your author is only in one section, you can request that the chapter or section be scanned using our Chapter Scan Form.

Contextual Material

Contextual materials can come in a variety of formats. Documentaries, journal articles, and book chapters are all useful when looking for information about the time and place of your author. 

Consider searching for contextual materials after you find primary sources and at least one biography, and after you read or skim them. The biographical material will give you some ideas about keywords to use when searching. Useful keywords can include:

  • a place name, like a city or region
  • a date range, time period term (e.g. "The Harlem Renaissance"), or event name (e.g. "The Boxer Rebellion")
  • a topical term or two (e.g. "women writers" or "rural life")

Use a combination of keywords from these categories to get a general history of the time and place of your author. 


University Archivist

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Adrienne Meier
Office on Lower Level, Archives
Subjects: History, Museum Studies