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Anthropology 110: Library Databases for Anthropology

Teaches Anthropology students use of JSTOR, Boolean Searching in Academic Search Premier, Use of Gale Virtual Reference, and introduces 2 streaming Video Databases

Powerful Resources to Support Student Research in Anthropology

The Cañada College Library has a number of rich and powerful resources that are well matched to supporting research projects by Anthropology 110 Students. This guide will introduce students to:

1. Gale Virtual Reference - Begin Research by Defining Terms & Concepts

Gale Virtual Reference Library logoEvery research project should begin with defining and understanding any terms, concepts or topic sub-components that are not clear. Here is where the  Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) (a database of encylopedias and dictionaries) can be a big help. The encyclopedic entries in GVRL present topics and their associated sub-topics in a systematic way. Here's an example of what GVRL has on a search for "ancestor worship."  The handout below reviews Boolean searching techniques.

3. Academic Search Premier (Supports More Powerful Searching)

Academic Search Premier is a database that every student should know. It supports most classes taught at Cañada. Boolean searching is a highly effective way of searching. Try to conceive of your topic in 2-3  intersecting concepts. Place each concept in one search window. Enter synonyms for each concept. Use the * asterisk symbol ("wildcard") to find relevant word forms. Here's a search seeking information on the "universality of ancestor worship."

Academic Search Premier search on Ancestor worship





In this search notice the use of the asterisk. The asterisk is a wildcard character. This means any character can substitute for the asterisk. Therefore, this search will find the keywords of Africa, Asia and mesoamerica as well as related word forms: African, Africans, Asian, Asians, and mesoamerican. The asterisk is a good search technique for increasing relevant search results.

4. ARTSTOR - an Art Images Database with Images that Define Anthropology

ARTSTOR logo ARTSTOR offers its users more than 2 million high-quality images for suitable for educational and research use via its Digital Library. ARTSTOR has curated unique groups of images to introduce various topics and disciplines. ARTSTOR images can be downloaded and citations generated by the DB.

Anthropology Image Group

"The rites of passage, ceremonies and rituals of global societies are presented in photographs, artifacts, and instruments from prehistory to present times.  This selections also includes portraits of anthropologists, and views of excavated sites." 

- From the ARTSTOR database

Research Sequence or Research Procedure

It is important for students to develop good research skills. The handout below presents a 7 step research procedure that focuses on the use of Library databases. These databases can be searched effectively using simple Boolean search techniques.

2. JSTOR (a Database with Good Coverage in the Humanities and Anthropology)

JSTOR search on werewovles


JSTOR's coverage of the humanities includes 88 academic journals specifically on Anthropology. You can enter an "advanced search: in JSTOR and limit your search results to just papers appearing in these 88 anthropology journals. Or, you can let your search look across a wider range of sources.

The search box below, which appears in the JSTOR "advanced search" window is an example of how you will limit your searches to just "anthropology" sources by clicking on one of the subject areas.

Jstor search limiter

5. Use Streaming Media Databases to Deepen Learning or Explore Topics

Family and KinshipEthnographic Video Online is a rich database of streaming video content that focuses on "...the study of human culture, behavior and society around the world. The collections contain over 1,300 hours of streaming video, including ethnographic films, documentaries, select feature films, and previously unpublished fieldwork."  Enter a simple keyword search to find videos that will help you explore possible topics for your Anthropology research project. Or, find videos that take you to a deeper level as they reinforce concepts introduced in your introductory Anthropology course. 

Films on Demand logoThe Films on Demand database contains over 253 full length feature films related to Anthropology and topics of Anthropological interest. This database can be searched by simple keyword searches or by clicking on a "subject" tab on the right hand. Click here for videos on "zombies" limited to the discipline of "anthropology."

Free Museum Passes from Discover & Go @ Your Public Library

Discover & Go logoNeed to visit a museum as one of your class requirements? Admission could be free. Discover & Go provides San Mateo Public Library card holders with FREE passes to local museums and other cultural institutions. Make your reservation online choosing by institution and date. Print your pass at home or at the library.

Click on this logo to see what passes are currently available. The passes offered changes throughout the year as different museums offer, withdraw, or re-offer passes through Discover & GO. Plan ahead as passes to popular sites are quickly snatched-up. If you do not live in San Mateo county, check with the website of your hometown's public library. Many public libraries in the bay area offer the Discover & Go passes.