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Art History 4005W/7005: Art of the Book in Special Collections

Resources supporting the study of manuscripts and early books as objects.

Research Tips


This guide provides some starting points for your research.

  • The Reference Shelf includes print and online guides, dictionaries, and encyclopedias for quick reference and concise overviews of topics.
  • Research Databases & Catalogs will help you find books and articles, engaging in the scholarly conversation that is ever ongoing.
  • Online Books & Manuscripts are no substitute for the physical artifacts, but may help you find materials similar to your object of study, providing some wider context.

As you explore, your questions will probably evolve and become more specific. Please feel free to ask for more help or suggestions as you proceed. We like nothing better than sharing and furthering your explorations.

A few tips for efficient and productive research:

  • Research often takes a winding path. It's more productive and pleasurable if you allow sufficient time for wandering and reorienting. Start with some broad exploratory searching to see what's out there, what conversations have been going on, and where they typically happen.
  • More specific research starts with questions; identifying what sort of information might lead to answers; thinking of where that information would be collected; and finding the right tools to access those collections. A librarian can help navigate this exploration.
  • Good online searching depends on using good search terms. Databases just match shapes. Keep an eye on terminology that you see in subject headings, descriptors, tags, compiling a glossary of useful terms. Take note of alternate spellings, translations, or transliterations.
  • Learn from more experienced scholars. Keep an eye on citations in the articles and books you read. You'll start to recognize prolific authors and significant journals or publishers. See what historic sources or types of publications are commonly used as evidence or as a clue to information.