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A Guide to American Culture Studies

This page brings together various information resources on the subject of American Culture Studies

Required Texts

W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk


Yale University Press, 2015 - unlimited user/download eBook 

Oxford University Press, 2007 - unlimited user/download eBook 


Bedford Books, 1997 - paperback 

New American Library, 1969 - hardback  

Pauline Hopkins, Of One Blood


(Boston, MA: The Colored Co-operative Publishing Company, 1902-1903) through  


within The Magazine Novels of Pauline Hopkins (Oxford University Press, 1988) - hardback...and such a cute book, too!

Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code


through St. Louis Public Library; SLPL membership can be created online. Be sure to use your local address.


available through MOBIUS


Goals of this Library Instruction Session

Create a bibliography of no fewer than ten sources through:

  • Researching the topic’s historical and cultural context (reference)
  • Reading widely in contemporary coverage about the topic (newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc.) (primary sources
  • Reading broadly across contemporary scholarship on the topic (secondary sources: books, academic journals


Reference Works - A Place to Begin

Research the topic’s historical and cultural context (reference)


Reference Works

Kent, Noel J. America in 1900. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2000.

The 1900s (1900-1909). Michael Shally-Jensen, ed. Ipswich, MA: Salem Press, a division of EBSCO Information Services; Amenia, NY: Grey House Publishing, 2016. - Profiles the first decade of the 20th century in America through careful, close analysis of historic documents from the era.


Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" (1903)


Jasen, David A. Ragtime: An encyclopedia, discography, and sheetography (New York: Routledge, 2007)

African American history and life

Encyclopedia of African American history, 1896 to the present: From the age of segregation to the twenty-first century. Paul Finkelman, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009 - the “Joplin, Scott (1868-1917)” and “Ragtime” are worth reading. The “Knowles, Beyoncé” is not.

Encyclopedia of African American music. Emmett G. Price III, exec. ed.; Tammy L. Kernodle and Horace J. Maxile, Jr., Assoc. eds. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011 – the “Joplin, Scott (1868-1917)” and “Ragtime” are worth reading. The “Knowles, Beyoncé” is not.

The world of Jim Crow America: A daily life encyclopedia. Steven A. Reich, ed. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2019.

Oxford Music Online (fka Grove Music Online) - Joplin, Scott (1868-1917)” and “Ragtime” are worth reading. The “Knowles, Beyoncé” is not.



The 2000s in America. Craig Belanger, ed. Ipswich, MA: Salem Press, a division of EBSCO Publishing, 2013 - features long overviews and short entries discussing people and companies; books, films, and plays; products and technological advances; elections and political movements, and other important topics representative of that era. Entries fall into the following general categories: arts and architecture, business and economics, crime and the law, disasters and events, film and television, health and medicine, military and war, politics and government, science and technology, sexuality, social issues, and sports and popular culture.

Hall, Richard A. Pop goes the decade. The 2000s. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2021.

St. James encyclopedia of popular culture. Thomas Riggs, ed. 2nd ed. Detroit: St. James Press, 2013 – both “Knowles, Beyoncé” and “Napster” are entries in this encyclopedia.

Historic documents of 2003. Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press, 2013 – primary source collection; it’s worth reading over the “Overview of 2003”


Use Quick Search  

Secondary Sources - Books and Academic Journals

Read broadly across contemporary scholarship on the topic (secondary sources: books, academic journals)

Oxford Bibliographies Online: Communications & Cinema and Media Studies  Cinema and media studies includes a dizzying array of subfields: film history, television studies, media studies, critical theory, visual arts, cultural studies, digital culture, game studies, popular culture, and the study of the moving image.  Communication is a multidisciplinary effort to understand the constant, varied, and complex transmission and exchange of information, knowledge, and ideas. Also, given the changing media landscape, scholars and professionals must constantly consider new content, technologies, processes and effects, and theories of communication.


Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer"

Subject Headings       

Joplin, Scott, 1868-1917

Ragtime music

Look for “bibliography” as a subheading under your broader LoC subject headings (LCSH


The Crayola company’s first box of crayons (1903)

Subject Headings

American Crayon Company 

Toys -- United States

Toy industry –  “

Child consumers – “

Children – “

Education – “


Knowles-Carter, Beyoncé Giselle

Beyoncé, 1981-

Napster (2003)

Napster, Inc. -this is a good example of the difference between keywords and controlled vocabulary


Contextual information

 “Social life and customs,” “Politics and government,” “Social conditions,” “Economic conditions,” “Intellectual life,” and “Material culture” are all good subheadings for discovering context


Academic Journal Databases

Music Periodicals Database -   several hundred international music periodicals from over 20 countries covering the full spectrum of subjects and all aspects of music, including music education, performance, ethnomusicology, musical theatre, theory, popular music forms and composition.

Performing Arts Periodicals Database – indexing and abstracts for more than 260 international periodicals, plus full text for more than 100 of the indexed journals covering a broad spectrum of the arts and entertainment industry - including dance, drama, theater, stagecraft, musical theater, circus performance, opera, pantomime, puppetry, magic, performance art, film, television and more.

RIPM Retrospective index to music periodicals with full text (1800-1950) - Répertoire International de la Presse Musicale (RIPM) focuses on music literature from approximately 1800 to 1950.


The EBSCO suite

The ProQuest Suite


Primary Sources

Read widely in contemporary coverage about the topic (newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc. - primary sources)

Newspapers and Magazines

MAS Ultra (1975 - ) full text for more than 700 popular magazines like Black Scholar and Black History Bulletin to Jet, Ebony, and Essence; to U.S. News & World Report, Economist, Time, National Review, The Nation, Newsweek, Forbes, New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, Scientific American, etc.

Readers' Guide Retrospective (1890-1982) - before there was the Internet, there was The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. The Reader's Guide indexed all the major, mainstream periodicals of its time. Much like the Guide, the Retrospective does not have the full text of the article, only the bibliographic citation. 

Historical American Newspapers (ProQuest) - includes The Atlanta Constitution, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

African American Newspapers (ProQuest)  - includes Atlanta Daily World (1931-2010), Baltimore Afro-American (1893-2010), Chicago Defender (1909-2010), Cleveland Call & Post (1934-2010), Kansas City Call (1919-2010), Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2010), Louisville Defender (1951-2010), New York Amsterdam News (1922-2010), Norfolk Journal & Guide (1916-2010), Philadelphia Tribune (1912-2010), and Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2010).

Chronicling America - over 1000 full-text U.S. newspaper titles from 46 states & Puerto Rico published between 1793-1963. The focus of this collection is smaller circulating newspapers not the large, well-known, metropolitan papers available through ProQuest’s Historical American Newspapers. - available through St. Louis Public Library; historical newspapers from the early 1700s into the early 2000s. It contains a diverse blend of well-known regional and local newspapers in the US and other countries, including the St. Louis Globe Democrat (published 1852-1986; digitized 1863-1963).


Trade Journals

Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive - the core US and UK trade magazines covering film, music, broadcasting and theater are all included, together with film fan magazines and music press titles.

Media History Digital Library A non-profit initiative dedicated to digitizing collections of classic media periodicals that belong in the public domain for full public access. Collections feature Extensive Runs of several important trade papers and fan magazines.

Rock's Backpages an online archive of music journalism, sourced from freelance contributions to the music and mainstream press from the 1950s to the present day.

Rolling Stone Archive (1967 - present)

Scott Joplin House Historic State Site