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USSY 285N - The American Dream

This research guide will compliment the in-class library orientation for Professor Leitman's course entitled The American Dream: Real and Imagined

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Reminder: Online Access

  • Library resources require going through CWRU Single Sign-On.
  • The best method is to follow links from the library website.
  • When logged in and a browser window is not closed, access should continue from resource to resource.
  • Remember to close your browser when done.

Reference Collections in Print

University-level libraries offer a wide variety of topical and subject specific reference collections.  Many of the entries for words, topics, people, ...etc. in these works include multi-page essays and bibliographies.  Make sure to take advantage of these print collections, as many of them will not be available electronically in full-text.

Types of reference works include:

  • topical encyclopedias
  • biographical dictionaries
  • directories (for people and associations)
  • historical atlases and almanacs
  • subject handbooks
  • subject guides
  • statistical compendia
  • subject bibliographies

Use these reference type names in keyword searches to find the section of the reference collection that addresses your topic.

  • Online catalog keyword search example = (“encyclopedia/dictionary/handbook”) + (research topic keywords)


Make sure to note the location of the print reference source in the catalog entry.  It will be on of these three designations:

  • Core Reference (first floor, Northeast shelves)
  • Ready Reference (first floor, behind reference desk)
  • Check Shelves (*this means that the reference work is shelved on the third floor with the rest of our books and monographs)

Online e-reference and e-book collections


In addition to the print reference collection, the KSL and OhioLink websites provide access to hundreds of full-text,

searchable electronic reference sources.

To access the Kelvin Smith Library online reference collection, start at the KSL homepage and hover your cursor

over the "Research Tools" link on the lefthand side of the page.  In the dropdown menu for this link, click the

"Databases" link.  One the next webpage, scroll down the page and click the "Reference" link.  This will provide a

list of all our online reference resources.  Collections include:

  • Oxford Reference Online collection (art, history, music,…etc.)
  • Biography and Genealogy Master Index
  • American National Biography
  • Smithsonian Global Sound


The OhioLink website also provides a robust collection of full-text, searchable academic books and reference materials.

To access the OhioLink e-book collections, click on the "OhioLink" link on the lefthand side of the KSL homepage.  On

the lefthand side of the OhioLink homepage click the "E-Book Center" link.  You will see a list of several e-book collections. 

Try the "Scholarly & Reference Collection" link and perform some searches for reference books using the same technique

explained above for searching the KSL print reference collection.  Search keywords for your class project might include:

  • American History
  • Presidency
  • Immigration, Utopias, women, charter schools, … etc.
  • Ethnic Groups and Cultural Geography
  • Popular Culture



Reference and Research Center Collections

The African American Studies Center and the Literary Reference Center are two examples of online, full-text collections that combine reference resources with scholarly analysis, primary historical documents and texts, and other materials.

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